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THE Amazons 



Herbert H.Smith. 



The Bequest of 

Colonel George Earl Church 












743 AND 745 Broadway 





Printing and Bookbinding Company, 

205-213 East 12th Street, 



Senhor d. s. ferreira penna, 









IN 1870, when a young student, I made a trip to the Amazons 
in the company of my friend and teacher, Prof. C. F, Hartt. 
The ghmpse of tropical hfe which I then obtained, acted as a 
constant attraction to draw me back to these glorious forests and 
riv^ers. In 1874 I returned to Brazil, with the design of collect- 
ing and studying the Amazonian animals. After two years, spent 
in the vicinity of Santarem, I was requested by Prof. Hartt, then 
in charge of the Brazilian Geological Commission, to make some 
explorations on the northern tributaries of the Amazons and on 
the Tapajos. These explorations occupied, altogether, more than 
a year. On their completion I went to Rio de Janeiro, spending 
four months there before returning to the United States. 

It was then that I began to dream of writing a book on Brazil, 
but for a lono: time the idea remained latent. I had. indeed, a 
large mass of notes, and a collection of about one hundred thou- 
sand specimens, principally entomological ; but the notes were 
thrown together at random, and a large portion of the collections 
were still in their packing-boxes. Heretofore my reading of books 
on Brazil had been desultory and not very extensive. I now began 
to collect such works as I could obtain, and to compare the views 
of the various authors with my own observations. This taught me 
a new difficulty. I found that most travellers either praised Brazil 
unduly, or condemned the country altogether. From my pleasant 


observations of tropical nature I was inclined to side with the farmer 
class, but I felt that I could not write fairly of social and commer- 
cial life without more careful study. 

At this juncture the Messrs. Scribner & Co. invited me to write 
a series of articles on Brazil for their magazine. Through their 
liberality I was enabled to make two more trips to South America, 
revisiting Rio and the Amazons, and making special studies of the 
coffee and sugar industries, of social and commercial life, and, 
finally, of the famine district in Ceara. Mr. J. Wells Champney, 
the artist, was my companion on one of these trips. To him I am 
indebted, not only for a series of very accurate and beautiful draw- 
ings, but for many keen observations and intelligent criticisms on 
Brazilian nature and society. 

With these added studies, I began the present work. As my per- 
sonal adventures and observations were, m themselves, hardly worth 
writing about, I have avoided a purely narrative form. I have, 
rather, endeavored to frame a series of essays, with a general loose 
connection, but varying in tense and person as the subjects seemed 
to require. While generally confining my descriptions to the ground 
that I have personally been over, I have tried to make them typical 
of the whole, so that the book, though it does not describe the 
whole of Brazil, may yet present an intelligible picture of the coun- 
try. Naturally, I have dwelt most on the scenes that I love best — 
the wild streams and glorious green forests of the Amazons. When 
I have treated of the less pleasant social and commercial life, I have 
endeavored to weigh my own opinions carefully with those of other 
persons, and to judge fairly from the whole ; thus, the book may 
appear contradictory in parts, because it does not always praise, nor 
yet wholly condemn, the Brazilian people. I believe that this is a 
difficulty which every author must meet, who attempts to write the 
truth about any nation. 

The series of six articles on Brazil, first published in Scribner's 
Magazine, have been embodied in the present work, but with so 


many changes and additions as to give them an entirely new char- 

Among the many kind friends who have assisted me in my work, 
I can speak here only of a few. ^[y thanks are especially due to 
Sr. D. S. Ferreira Penna, and to His Excellency, Dr. F. M. C. de 
Sa e Benevides, late President of Para ; to Mr. R. J. Rhome, of 
Taperinha ; to His Honor, the Baron of Santarem, and to Sr. Cae- 
tano Correa, of the same place, as well as to many American colo- 
nists of the vicinity ; to Dom Manuel Onetti, of Monte Alegre ; to 
President Julio, and Sr. Morsing, of Fortaleza ; to Dr. Gomes Per- 
rira, of Baturite ; to Mr. H. H. Swift, and Dr. AFamede, of Pernam- 
buco ; to Maj. O. C. James, of Rio de Janeiro ; and to Sr. IVIiranda 
Jordao, of Bem Posta. Among my American coadjutors, I must 
mention the officers of the American Geographical Society. 

Besides the illustrations by Mr. Champney, a number of drawings 
were made by Mr. Wiegandt, of Rio de Janeiro ; a few were worked 
up from photographs, by various artists ; three were borrowed from 
Keller. The zoological drawings, in Chapter VH., are by ]\[r. J. C. 

Two chapters, which, in their nature, did not admit of illustra- 
tions, have been placed at the end of the book ; and one, of a more 
exclusively scientific cast, has been reduced to the form of an ap- 

I hope that this may be but the beginning of my studies on 
South America. As such, I ofter it to the reading public. 

Brooklyn, N. Y., Dec. i, 1879. 




The Great River and its History, i 

Para, 34 

The River-plain, , .... 78 

Santarem, . 117 

American Farmers on the Amazons, 135 

The Forest, . ......... 176 

Zoological Gleanings, 205 

The Tapajos, .......... 226 

The North Shore, 257 

The Curua, ........... 295 


The IVIaecuru, .......... 342 


An Indian Village, ......... 370 

Ceara and the Drought, ......... 398 

Down the Coast, .......... 436 

Social Life at Rio, . . . . . . . . . • 451 

Profit and Loss, .......... 484 

The Story of Coffee, 511 


Myths and Folk-lore of the Amazonian Indians, . . . 541 

The Tributaries of the Amazons, 588 

Geology and Physical Geography of the Amazons Valley, . . 619 

Index, 6yj 



Table-topped Hills of the Lower Amazons, 5 

River-side Vegetation, ........... 9 

Flooded Forest of the Upper Amazons (from Keller) 13 

On the Banks — Lower Amazons, 17 

Indian Settlement, ............ 26 

The Fort, Para, ............. 35 

At the Custom-house, . 38 

The Assai Stand, ............ 44 

The Market Wharf, 46 

The Theatre, Para, ............ 52 

The Washerwoman, Para 56 

" Monkey Joe's," ............ 57 

Estrada de Sao Jose, ............ 59 

The Botanical Garden, ........... 63 

Breves Channel, ............. 81 

The Rubber-gatherer, 84 

Preparing Rubber, ............ 85 

At Breves, 


Victoria Regia, ............ 96 

The Pirarucu Fisher, ............ 98 

Drying Cacao, ............. 113 

The Beach below Santarem, .......... 117 

At the Window 123 

Scavengers, 128 

Beach Scenes at Santarem, . . ........ 130 

Taperinha Plantation, from the River 152 

The Cane-mills — Old and New, 154 

Picking Tobacco-leaves, ........... 156 

Preparing Tobacco, 157 

The Plantation House, Taperinha, 159 



Lace-maker, .............. i6o 

Looking down from the Cane-field, Tapermha, ....,, i6i 

Fishing by Torchlight, , ............ 164 

Looking up the Uaiaia from Taperinha 168 

Forest Group, ............. 177 

Sandy Campos (Hill-sides), 178 

In the Forest, 186 

Inaja Palms, 199 

Spider Monkeys, 206 

Young Pacas 208 

Leaf-insect, i, ............. 219 

Leaf-insect, 2, 221 

Longicorn Beetles, 224 

The Embarkation 227 

Camp on the Tapajos, ............ 229 

Jara Palm, .............. 232 

Ascending the Rapids, 251 

Cacao-orchard, 260 

Jose's P'amily, ............. 263 

Thatch-palm on the Campo at Terra-preta 275 

Pirarucu (from Keller), 285 

Igarape de Cujubim, ............ 287 

Village Scene, Alenquer, 296 

An Indian Kitchen, ............ 299 

An Indian Mother, 307 

Highland Stream, ............ 318 

The River-shore, Curua, ........... 323 

Manuel's Hut 325 

Looking over the Lowlands from Monte Alegre, ...... 344 

Calabash-tree, ............. 348 

Serra d'Erere, from the Northeast, ......... 350 

View on Lake Maripa, ........... 353 

Indian Shooting Fish 356 

Camp Scene on the Maecuru, .......... 362 

The Spring, -374 

Indian Woman making Pottery, . . . , . . ' . . . 379 

Straining the Mandioca, 382 

Roasting Farinha, ............ 383 

Hammock-weaving, ............ 386 

Indian Woman beating Cotton, 389 

The Saire, .............. 394 

Road-side Scene, Ceard 404 

A Jangada in the Breakers (from Keller) 406 

Group of Refugee Children (from a photograph) 413 



The Exodus, 415 

Refugees Working on the Roads, 429 

The Reef at Pernambuco 439 

Bahia, from the Hill, 448 

Victoria Harbor, 450 

Tijuca, from the Bay, ............ 452 

Rua Primeiro de Mar^o, ........... 453 

The Sugar-loaf, from the West, .......... 456 

The Organ Mountains, 458 

Up the Bay, 459 

Porters waiting for Work 464 

Plantation Slaves 469 

In the Passeio Publico, 476 

Beer-Garden, ............. 478 

The Gavea, ......... ..... 480 

Botafogo and the Corcovado, . 482 

Fruit-seller, .............. 485 

Poultry-seller, ............. 488 

Charcoal-seller, ............. 489 

A narrow Street 494 

Water-carts in the Largo de Carioca, 497 

The Sugar-loaf, from the South 501 

Loading a Ship with Coffee, at Rio 505 

Coffee-plantation in Southern Brazil, 513 

The Viveiro, .............. 516 

Picking Coffee 517 

Coffee-berries on the Tree, ........... 518 

The Pulping-machine, ........... 520 

Steam Drying-machine, ........... 521 

Diagram of a Coffee-engenho, .......... 523 

Coffee-sheller (old form), 524 

Picking over Coffee, 525 

Cutting Cane-stalks for the Cattle 527 

The Uniao e Industria Road, near Entre Rios, 530 

Coffee Warehouse, 535 

Weighing, .............. 53^ 

Diagram I. (Appendix), 620 

"II. " 620 

" III. " 620 

"IV. << 621 

"V. " .... 621 

Diagram illustrating the Formation of Terraces 632 






ON the fly-leaf of an old copy of Schiller I find this 
note : 

"July 26th, noon, long. 47° 30' W. G., lat. 5° 30' N. 
Water slightly discolored, assuming a greenish tint ; current 
from the southwest." 

The charts indicate similar discolored patches all along 
the coast of Guiana, and as far north as lat. 9° or 10°. In 
these patches the current is from the southwest, south, or 
southeast. The line of green water runs parallel to the coast, 
but two or three hundred miles away from it. There are no 
shoals here ; bottom is beyond the reach of ordinary sound- 

Consulting that clever book of travels, Mr. Bates's " Nat- 
uralist on the Amazons," we find noted on the last page a 
curious observation made in these seas : 

*' On the 6th of June, when in 7° 55' N. lat. and 52° 30' W. 
long., we passed numerous patches of floating grass mingled 


with tree-trunks and withered foHage. Amongst these masses 
I espied many fruits of ubussu palms." The ubussii, or bussu 
{Manicaria sacciferd), is an Amazonian tree, growing along 
the narrow channels about Marajo. "And this," says Mr. 
Bates, " was the last I saw of the great river," 

The green tint, then, is caused by intermixture of fresh 
water, in which are suspended particles of yellow clay. The 
fresh water was gathered far westward on the slopes of the 
Andes; the clay has been washed from muddy banks over 
the whole breadth of Brazil. 

Farther south, near the equator, and still a hundred miles 
from land, the sea is much more strongly tinged ; in April 
and May, indeed, it has nearly the clay-yellow hue of the 
Amazons itself, and furious currents struggle with each other 
until the surface boils and seethes as below a cataract. The 
flood of turbid waters, after this first battle with the ocean, 
gives way before the yet stronger equatorial current ; its 
flank is turned, and it sweeps away northward, staining the 
sea with the blood of its defeat, littering it with debris, madly 
rushing into the heart of the enemy's country, until its last 
forces are exhausted and it sinks to annihilation, six hundred 
miles from the field of battle. 

Down on the ocean-floor the king is building his monu- 
ment ; such an one as you may have seen of the old-time 
rivers — sheets of sandstone and shale, stretching over hun- 
dreds of miles, rising into hills and mountains, furrowed by 
lakes and valleys. We shall see presently how he is building 
along the great valley ; building, and tearing down, and re- 
building, with a restless impatience of his own work. But this 
ocean monument grows steadily, for the river-king wills that 
his name shall live ; through years and centuries he has been 
washing away the continent and spreading it under the sea. 


From green water to yellow water, and off through the 
forests and plains of the Amazons valley. It will be rough 
life for us, with rough pleasures and cares ; but there is health 
in it, and bright sunshine and green boughs, and a glimpse of 
nature-love there at nature's heart. 

In the outset we must survey our field and see what other 
explorers have done here. 

The Amazons is not the longest river in the world ; it is 
even a good thousand miles shorter than the geographies 
would have it, for they set it down at four thousand miles. 
The more probable estimates give two thousand seven hun- 
dred and forty miles from Lake Lauricocha along the river- 
curves to the Atlantic ; or, if the Ucayali be considered as the 
source, the length is rather more than three thousand miles. 
In either case, both the Mississippi and the Nile are longer 
than the South American river. But the Amazons is wider 
and deeper than either of them ; it carries more water than 
the two together ; and it has a vastly greater extent of navi- 
gable surface, what with the side-channels and the mighty 

This immense river-system, that can stain the sea for six 
hundred miles from its mouth, is dependent, too, on great 
causes ; and often very remote ones, which we must seek out 
carefully. First, the configuration of the land. The north- 
ern part of South America is a plain — a low one, with gentle 
slopes. On the western side this plain is bordered by the 
Andes, snowy peaks away up in the cloud-region. To the 
north the Andes sweep round through New Grenada and 
Venezuela ; to the south there are high table-lands in Central 
Brazil. The plain is, in fact, a great basin, shut in on three 
sides, but open toward the east. Here the northeast and 
southeast trade-winds blow in freely, as they blow over the 


tropics all round the earth. Hot winds, sweeping over a 
warm ocean. They take up water, every hour, until they 
are full of it — saturated, so that the least puff of cold air 
sends torrents of rain down over the ocean. When they 
reach the South American coasts they are heavy with mois- 
ture, more than any other winds in the world. The sun is 
the furnace, the Atlantic is the retort, South America is the 

Cool land-currents strike the trades and condense their 
moisture. Already, near the coast, there are daily rains ; 
and then, far to the westward, come freezing Andean winds, 
meeting the warm ones from the East, whirling about 
with them, rising and eddying and tossing, and filling the 
sky with clouds at every pace. Here the rains are almost 
constant, and the air, and ground, and trees, are all soaked 
and dripping. On the Upper Amazons, if a gun is kept 
loaded overnight, it will not go off in the morning ; sugar 
and salt deliquesce so rapidly that it is almost impossible to 
keep them ; books and furniture and clothes drop to pieces. 
" All our watches stopped," says Orton. 

Now the winds strike cold mountain-sides, snowy peaks, 
and beds of ice. There yet more of their moisture must be 
wrung from them, until, dry and cool, they pass on to the 
Pacific, over a country almost devoid of vegetation, except 
along the river-courses. 

They have not always kept close to the ground. On the 
Lower Amazons, and as far up as Manaos, the prevailing 
winds are easterly ; after that the trades form an upper cur- 
rent, and near the plain there are variable winds, where ed- 
dying currents from the mountains come in. But on the 
high Andean peaks the breeze is steadily from the east. 

This great basin that I have described receives more rain 


than any other region in the world of Hke extent. The 
water is collected in channels — brooks from the Andes, 
and streams on the dripping lowlands, and rivers pouring 
toward the east ; finally the whole is gathered into two 
great troughs, the Amazons and the Orinoco — two river- 
systems that are almost combined above, but separated below 
by the mountains of Guiana, the highest land in the basin. 
These Guiana mountains will not compare with the Andes ; 
but they are quite high enough to affect the rainfall. If 
report be true, indeed, some of the peaks are nearly ten 
thousand feet above the sea- level ; and even near the Ama- 
zons there are spurs sixteen hundred feet high — flat-topped 

Table-topped Hills of the Lower Amazons. 

hills of Almeyrim and Velha Pobre. To the highest range 
sweeps our northeast trade-wind, and the Guiana slope is all 
moist and dripping — a matted forest down to the coast ; Sir 
Walter Raleigh, wandering there in search of El Dorado, was 
drenched and steamed into a proper respect for the country. 
But on the southern side of the range is precisely the 
driest region along the main Amazons ; dry comparatively, 
that is, for even there the rains are heavy enough in the 
winter ; but in August and September there are weeks to- 
gether without even a shower. So here the great forest is 
interrupted ; you find it along hill-sides and about the river- 
courses, but on level ground you shall walk, or gallop if you 
please, for days, over open stony lands and sandy campos, 


with a stunted growth of trees — a region altogether unhke 
the rest of the valley. Real forest must have good, pouring 
rains ; but here the rain has all been stolen away by the 

On the other side of the Amazons, if we ascend the 
Tocantins or the Xingu, we shall find that the summer 
climate grows drier as we advance, until we reach the great 
open Sertao, where dry and wet seasons are sharply divided, 
and hardly any rain falls from June to November. Even on 
the Lower Tocantins there is a long, dry season : " It did 
not rain for three months," we read in Mr. Wallace's book. 
We shall study the Sertao and its seasons in their proper 
place ; it will be enough now to remember that wet and dry 
seasons there depend on the position of the sun. When 
it is south of the line, the Sertao atmosphere is warmer 
than the trade-wind, and the rains do not fall ; when it is 
on the northern side, there are ascending currents and heavy 
rains. But near the equator this change is hardly felt, and to 
the westward the cooling winds come all through the year 
from the Andes. 

It is well for us to note these modified regions — the lee 
of the Guiana highlands, and edges of the Sertao. But 
they are only little fragments of the great plain ; for the rest 
it is rain, rain, almost every day — often five or six times in a 
day — drizzling, pouring, filling up the river-channels, stain- 
ing the sea beyond. You must not look for a dry season on 
the Upper Amazons or at Para ; the so-called dry and wet 
seasons are only marked by lighter or heavier showers. *' It 
rains every day, or it rains all the while," says a voyaging 
friend of mine.* 

At Obidos the whole Amazonian flood is gathered into 

* Gait found no inches, by rain-gauge, during one year on the Upper Amazons. 


a narrow trough, through which it rushes with mill-race 
swiftness ; even along the shores it is difficult to force vessels 
against it. This channel at Obidos is little more than a mile 
wide,* but it makes up for that by its great depth. Lieut. 
Herndon sounded it, rather unsatisfactorily : "In what was 
pointed out as the deepest part I sounded in one hundred and 
fifty, one hundred and eighty, and two hundred and ten feet, 
with generally a pebbly bottom. In another place I judged I 
had bottom in two hundred and forty feet, but the lead came 
up clean. It is very difficult to get correct soundings in so 
rapid a current." Wallace found that this current ran four 
miles per hour in the dry season. Taking these two observa- 
tions of Herndon and Wallace as our basis, we can venture on 
a calculation of the amount of water that passes through the 
strait. With a width of six thousand feet, we may allow an 
average depth of forty feet — a very low estimate. This would 
give two hundred and forty thousand feet for the water which 
is opposite a given foot of space at any one instant. Mr. 
Wallace's observation was made, no doubt, in mid-stream ; 
along the banks, and at the bottom, the current is slower. 
Allow but two and one-quarter miles per hour for the aver- 
age, that would give over three feet per second, or seven 
hundred and sixty thousand cubic feet per second in the 
whole breadth. Von Martins and Wallace, it is true, calcu- 
lated but five hundred thousand feet per second ; but they 
must have underestimated the depth. Below Obidos, the 
Amazons receives the Tapajos, Xingii, and other smaller trib- 
utaries ; but collectively they can hardly add more than one 
hundred thousand feet per second. On the whole, if we say 
that eight hundred and fifty thousand feet per second pass 

* 1,892 metres, according to Sr. D. S. Ferreira Penna : A Regiao Occidental da 
Provincia do Para, p. 141. 


into the ocean by the northern mouth, we are quite within 
bounds. That is double the outflow of the Mississippi.* 

The difference in rainfall is great enough to produce 
a yearly rise and fall of the river. From December or 
January to June the winds are stronger, and the cold 
currents from the West more numerous ; every fisherman 
knows the vejito da ciina — "wind from up-river" — which 
brings rain almost always, and with it an increase of 
volume in the river. The rise and fall vary a good deal 
with the locality and with different years. On the Upper 
Amazons, about Teffe, there are, in fact, two floods,! 
corresponding to what may be called two rainy seasons. 
The first is in November and December, when the showers 
are somewhat heavier and the river rises fifteen or twenty 
feet above the summer level ; after that there is a fall of four 
or five feet before the great rainy season, the one that is felt 
all over the valley. Perhaps this fall in December is caused 
by dry weather below the Andes ; for Lieut. Herndon, care- 
ful collector of facts, has recorded this in Peru : '' There is a 
period of fine weather from the middle of December to the 
middle of January, called El Verano del Nifio, or the sum- 
mer of the child, from its happening about Christmas. The 
streams which are fed from the rains of this country invari- 
ably stop rising, and fall a little after this period.'' \ 

At Teffe the highest water is in June : forty-five feet, says \ 
Bates, above the summer level, but it varies with different 
years ; after this the fall continues into October. But here, 

* Wallace, on a basis of seventy-two inches per annum, calculates the rainfall 
of the whole valley at one million five hundred thousand cubic feet per second, 
and he supposes that half of this is evaporated. This gives nearly the same 

+ Bates: Naturalist on the Amazons, p. 326. 

+ Valley of the Amazon, Part I., p. 112. 


and elsewhere on the upper rivers, there are repiquetes — 
Httle floods — when the waters increase a few inches only ; 
these seem to be caused by the sudden rising of one or two 
tributaries. The great river spreads its arms over such a 
vast territory that there may be a rainy season about the 
head- waters of one, while the others are still low. 

On the Lower Amazons, however, the repiquetes are not 
felt, and the two floods of November and February are 
hardly sepa- 
rated. More- 
over, on the 
broad lower 
reaches the 
rise of wa- 
ter is not so 
great ; for 
while it may 

- be sixty feet 
on the Pu- 
r u s ,* and 
forty- five 
feet, as we |^^ 
have seen, 
at Teffe, we 
shall hardly 

f- find it over thirty-five feet below Obidos. The seasons and 
the floods are very fickle and irregular, — much to the discom- 
fort of the Indians, for their yearly fish and turtle harvests 
depend on this annual rise and fall. 

River-side Vegetation. 

* According to Brown and Lidstone : Fifteen Thousand Miles on the Amazon, 
p. 427. 


The Amazonian floods are not at all like the freshets that 
immerse Albany streets, or burst through the levees in Lou- 
isiana. Those are caused by melting snows ; but this tropical 
river-pulsation is entirely dependent on the rains ; the flood 
comes on gradually, and the water passes off" by slow degrees. 

Wet or dry season, the temperature is much the same 
all over the valley, and by no means a scorching equatorial 
heat such as you may imagine. At Para, it is true, people 
complain of the sultry days, but you shall see a dozen more 
sultry ones during any August in New York ; 90° Fahren- 
heit is about the highest temperature of sunny afternoons,* 
and the evenings are delightfully cool. 

Now, concerning the healthfulness of the river-valley, that 
is a question with two sides. I can take you from Para to 
the Andes, along the main river, and you will never have so 
much as a headache ; you can ascend some of the tributaries, 
and in a week you will be shivering with ague. In general, it 
may be said that the Amazons region is very healthy ; the ex- 
ceptions are in lowland swamp-forest, and far up the branch- 
rivers, among the rapids. Certain rivers, too, are healthy 
during some years, but unhealthy at other times ; I have 
found this on the Tocantins, the Xingu, and other branches. 
Chandless, writing from the Puriis in 1865, says : '' It is now 
very healthy, but some eight years ago fever was so preva- 
lent and severe one season that the following year four or 
five men only ventured up the river." If two hundred fever- 
stricken men are sent down from the Madeira Railroad, it 

* 92° or 93°, says Bates ; but Lieut. Herndon's table, made in April, shows 
nothing above 86^. In the absence of exact data I give the mean. At Manaos, in 
a series of hourly observations taken through many years, the highest temperature 
noted was 95° Fahr., and the lowest 68°. 


is hardly fair to judge the whole valley by their account. 
The railroad is located near the great Madeira Rapids, pre- 
cisely the most sickly spot on that river ; and the men were 
half-starved besides. I wandered for four years on the 
Amazons, and never had the ague at all; I caught it in three 
days on the Ohio. People live to old age, and are hale and 
hearty wdth their gray hairs. You hear sometimes of the 
''enervating" climate, but even that bugbear is largely 
imaginary. The white race is lazy here, not because of the 
climate, but from its own immorality and decay. American 
residents can and do work as well as in the United States, 
and they stand the strain better. The only ''enervating" 
effect I ever experienced was a slight lassitude on returning 
to the changeable northern climate ; but that soon passed 

To the river-people the floods are a yearly '' ebb and 
flow" — vasaitte and encJiente. But on the Lower Ama- 
zons there are true ebbs and flows — the regular twelve-hourly 
tides. Of course, you would look for tides about a river- 
mouth. But the Amazons is not content with this : it has 
appropriated to itself a part of the ocean movements, and 
you find them away up in the fresh water five or six hun- 
dred miles from the sea. They are modified by the annual 
rise : during the flood season tides are hardly felt above 
the Xingu ; but in August and September they are quite 
distinct at Obidos and on the Lower Tapajos. Bates found 
them on a secondary branch of the latter river, five hun- 
dred and thirty miles, as the channels run, from the sea. 
On the main Amazons they do not stop the current, but 
retard it ; only through the little side-channels the water is 
forced back very perceptibly, and canoemen take advantage 
of this ebb and flow in their voyages. 


You will understand, of course, that the salt water never 
comes up so far ; on the contrary, it hardly enters the river- 
mouth at all. At Para, even in the height of the dry season, 
the river is only slightly brackish, and outside of the islands 
of Caviana and Mexiana it is still quite fresh. I suppose that 
the up-river tide is simply caused by the damming up of the 
current below ; or in part it may be a kind of wave, a back- 
water from the sea, as pebbles thrown into a pond will send 
circles to the very brim. 

Near the mouth this wave is very apparent. The tide 
is forced, so to speak, into a funnel, over shoals and against 
the descending current ; it rises in a great solid mass three 
or four feet high, uprooting trees along the banks and break- 
ing canoes that may happen to be in shallow water. This is 
the celebrated porortka* a phenomenon which is best seen 
on the northern side of the river, and during the spring 
tides. Travellers have had much to say of X\\^ pororoca, and 
some of them, no doubt, have multiplied it in their fancy. 
However, the tidal wave is really formidable, and much 
dreaded by the canoemen, who keep in mid-channel to avoid 
its force. 

The tides below and the river-floods above must spread 
themselves through a hundred courses, in every possible direc- 
tion, for the Amazons is not so much a single river as a net- 
work of large and small channels. Generally we find a main 
stream — sometimes two — with smaller ones on either side, with 
islands and swamps and lakes innumerable, forming that great 
labyrinth to which Brazilians give the name varzeas ; geogra- 

* Wallace : Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, p. 129 : La Condamine, etc. 
The name comes apparently from pororog, Tupi-Guarany : the noise caused by 
breaking: or burstine. 



phers call it the flood-plain of the Amazons. It is perfectly 
flat, never raised more than a few inches above high-water 
level, and everywhere the islands are formed of silt and mud 
from the river itself. The flood-plain varies greatly in out- 

Fiooded Forest of the Upper Amazons (from Keller). 

line, and there are long projections of it where the tributaries 
come in. From Manaos to Marajo it may have an average 
width of thirty miles or more. 


Now, this great band, running across the continent, is a 
world in itself, with trees and flowers, with quadrupeds, and 
birds and insects, all different from those of the terra firme on 
either side of it. It is well for us to understand in the out- 
set this first division of the land, because it is the most strik- 
ing and the most important one of all. By and by, when we 
come to study the lowlands, we shall have long rambles to 
take over the meadows and in the shore woods ; we must 
force our way through swampy jungle, and float in canoes 
among the shady by-channels and shallow lakes. 

In March and April the river has overflowed the varzeas, 
so that hardly a dry spot is left ; the valley is like a great lake 
with deeper channels marking the water-courses, and only the 
submerged forest and floating grass to indicate islands and 
meadows. Towards the Atlantic this flooded land occupies 
an area as broad as New England, and the channels are 
even more tangled than above. 

The school geographies, I remember, used to tell us that 
the mouth of the Amazons was one hundred and eighty miles 
wide. There was some reason in this, with a great deal of 
error. If we allow that the mouth extends from the north- 
ern side of the northernmost channel to the southern side of 
the Para, then the geographies are right. But the Para 
is properly a continuation of the Tocantins, and Marajo, the 
srreat tract included in this measurement, is not a delta island 


at all. It is true that nearly the whole of it is formed of 
— ;\ river-silt ; but there is a framework of higher and older land, 
jy with rock-formations and terra-firme forest, as at Breves. 
This older land forms a strip, or rather a series of strips, 
along the southwestern side of the island, and adjoining the 
net of channels by which the Amazons is connected with 


the Para. In these channels the tides ebb and flow ; but the 
general current, no doubt, is from the Amazons to the Para. 
So, even in the dry season, the volume of water received by 
the latter river in this way may be greater than that of 
the Tocantins, and in the winter the proportion is increased. 
But, in any case, the amount is very small compared to the 
great flood which is poured out of the Amazons on the 
northern side of Marajo. Besides, the Para flows almost 
north, and right in the course of the Tocantins ; so we may 
consider it as an estuary mouth of the latter, receiving also 
the Guama and its branches, and increased by this contribu- 
tion sent in through the Breves channels. It has a fair claim 
to Amazonian honors ; but, allowing this, I cannot see why 
Marajo, a tract as large as the State of New York, should 
be reduced to the rank of a mere " island in the mouth of 
the Amazons," nor why the great river should be forced to 
open its mouth a hundred and eighty miles to choke itself 
with such a morsel. 

The Para itself is thirty miles wide, but it does not stain 
the sea to a very great distance. North of Marajo the main 
mouth is about sixty miles across, and much broken by isl- 
ands ; the principal channel below Macapa is ten or twelve 
miles wide.* This part of the river is much obstructed by 
shifting sand-bars, and the fierce currents make it a danger- 
ous entrance for ships; so I suppose that the Para will be 
the commercial mouth of the Amazons as long as the world 

Farther up, the river is deep enough ; fifteen or twenty 
fathoms, even near the banks, and in the middle it is not 
easy to sound. The current is swift and steady; the river, in 

According to the map of Tardy de Montravel. 


mass, appears yellowish brown ; but, on the surface at least, 
it is not a muddy stream like the Mississippi ; if you dip up 
the water in a glass it will deposit hardly any sediment, and 
even during the floods it is excellent for drinking. On the 
Amazonian steamboats, river-water is always kept in great 
porous jars, for the benefit of passengers. 

The river is full of varzea islands, as we have seen. The 
main channel may be seven or eight miles wide, as near the 
mouth of the Xingu, but oftener it is only two or three miles. 
The bends are seldom very sharp ; so you can look up and 
down to open horizons, where the lines of forest are lifted 
up by the mirage, and broken into groups and single trees 
until they disappear altogether : it is like going out to sea. 

Above the narrow strait at Obidos we find again an 
average breadth for the main channels of two miles or more ; 
Herndon tells of sounding in from seventy-five to one hun- 
dred and fifty feet of water ; and away up to Nauta there 
is yet a navigable channel with six or seven fathoms, and 
with a current of two and a half or three miles per hour. 

It is a wild region, this of the Alto Amazonas ; a shade 
more savage, even, than the eastern portion of the valley. 
The villages are very few, and most of them are mere collec- 
tions of Indian huts, a dozen together. Only after we pass 
the Peruvian frontier the population begins to increase a lit- 
tle toward the Andes ; once in ten or fifteen miles there may 
be a hamlet crowded against the river banks ; but within 
there is only the unbroken, rayless forest — a solitude that 
can be felt. 

Tabatinga, on the Peruvian frontier, is only two hundred 
feet, it is said, above the Atlantic. It is difficult, however, 
to compute the slope of the river-plain. Agassiz supposed 
that the fall was one foot in ten miles ; Orton gives one foot 



in five miles, which is probably nearer the truth. But baro- 
metrical measurements in this region are not very reliable. 
Herndon suggests an explanation : "I am led to believe 
that this irregularity arises from the fact that the trade-winds 
are dammed up by the Andes, and that the atmosphere in 
those parts is from this cause compressed, and consequently 
heavier than it is farther from the mountains." He may be 
right in part ; but the 
amount of moisture 
in the air is a more 
important element of 
error. We cannot 
measure it, for the 
heaviest layers are 
high up out of our 
reach.* We know, at 
any rate, that the fall 
of the river is very 
slight, and it may 
seem strange that the 
current should be so 
rapid. But a river 
may run, even on per- 
fectly level ground, 
if there is a constant 
supply of moisture about its head; just as in a trough, 
which may be exactly level, if water is poured in at one 
end, it will run out at the other end in a constant stream. 
Above Nauta, however, the slope increases rapidly, and 

On the Banks — Lower Amazons. 

* Chandless makes the mouth of the Puriis one hundred and seven feet above 
the Atlantic ; Keller gives twenty-one metres for the level of the Madeira em- 


1 8 BRAZIL. 

then there is that long south-to-north course where the river 
rushes and foams down the rocky valley from its lake-cradle 
in the Andes. It is little more than a pond, this lake of 
Lauricocha ; the hills around are bare and bleak to the snowy 
Cordilleras that feed it. 

Fragments of pumice-stone float down from the Andean 
volcanoes, and are picked up even on the shores of Marajo. 
Melting snows swell the volume of water ; granite and gneiss 
and slate from the mountains have been washed away to form 
these varzea islands, to build up the sea-bottom half-way to 
the West Indies. 

Long ago Pingon told of a fresh-water sea which he had 
found on the South American coast, where, it is affirmed, he 
filled his water-casks while yet he could not see the shore.* 
Pinion's voyage was made in 1500, and he discovered 
this fresh water about March of that year — i. c, during the 
flood season ; so we may suppose that he actually did find 
fresh water far outside of the river-mouth, though we may 
doubt the forty leagues which Herrera and others credit. 
Probably he had sailed about forty leagues from his last land- 
ing-place, but in a line almost parallel to the coast. 

A wonderful sight it must have been to the explorer and 
his company. They dipped up the yellow water for their 
casks, but all around there was clear horizon — never a tree 
or a sandbar. It is written, however, that ** wishing to know 
this secret, he approached the land ; and there were there 
many beautiful and verdant islands, with much people, who 
received the sailors with as srreat love as if thev had always 
known them." With true Spanish brutality they rewarded 
the faith of these simple-hearted savages. " Not finding 

* Herrera : Hist. Gen. de las Indias, Tom. I., p. 90 ; J. C. da Silva: L'Oyapoc et 
TAmazone, vol. ii., ^ 2530-2583. 


provisions in this place, they took away with them thirty- 
six men, and so sailed on to Paria." 

These were the first tidings of the mighty king-river. It 
is interesting to read in the *' Capitulation " of Pingon, how 
*' with the help of God our Lord, and with your own industry 
and labor and diligence, you discovered certain islands and 
main land ; and from thence you followed the coast, which 
runs to the northeast, to the great river^ which you called 
Saint Mary of the Fresh-Water Sea — Santa Maria de la 
Mar Dzdce/' * 

This was the first name given to the river, except that 
older and better one of the Indians, Parana, the sea ; after- 
wards it was Maraiion and Rio das Amazonas, from the 
female warriors that were supposed to live near its banks. 
Yet for the moment we will draw Pincon's name out of its 
oblivion and let it stand in our chapter. 

After Pingon's time, there were others who saw the fresh- 
water sea, but no one was hardy enough to venture into it. 
The honor of its real discovery was reserved for P'rancisco 
de Orellana ; and he explored it, not from the east, but from 
the west, in one of the most daring voyages that was ever 

It was accident, rather than design, that led him to it. 
After Alonzo Pizarro had conquered Peru, he sent his 
brother Gonzalo, with three hundred and forty Spanish 
soldiers and four thousand Indians, to explore the great 
forest east of Quito, " where there were cinnamon-trees." 
The expedition started late in 1539, and it was two years 

* Capitulation de Vincent Pin9on. This curious document was coj^ied from a 
manuscript in Madrid, and first published by Sr. J. C. da Silva, as an appendix of 
his L'Oyopoc et I'Amazone — a work, I may add, which shows an amount of re- 
search not at all common with Brazilians. 



before the starved and ragged survivors returned to Quito. 
In the course of their wanderings they had struck the river 
Coco ; building here a brigantine, they followed down the 
current, a part of them in the vessel, a part on shore. After 
awhile they met some Indians, who told them of a rich 
country ten days' journey beyond — a country of gold, and 
with plenty of provisions. Gonzalo placed Orellana in com- 
mand of the brigantine, and ordered him, with fifty soldiers, 
to go on to this gold-land, and return with a load of pro- 
visions. Orellana arrived at the mouth of the Coco in three 
days, but found no provisions; "and he considered that if 
he should return with this news to Pizarro, he would not 
reach him in a year, on account of the strong current, and 
that if he remained where he was, he would be of no use to 
the one or to the other. Not knowincf how lono; Gonzalo 
Pizarro would take to reach the place, without consulting 
any one he set sail and prosecuted his voyage onward, in- 
tending to ignore Gonzalo, to reach Spain, and obtain that 
government for himself."* 

Down the Napo and the Amazons, for seven months, 
these Spaniards floated to the Atlantic. At times they 
suffered terribly from hunger: "There was nothing to eat 
but the skins which formed their girdles, and the leather 
of their shoes, boiled with a few herbs." When they did 
get food they were often obliged to fight hard for it ; and 
again they w^ere attacked by thousands of naked Indians, 
who came in canoes against the Spanish vessels. At some 
Indian villages, however, they were kindly received and 
well fed, so they could rest safely while building a new and 

* Garcilasso Inca de la Vega : Royal Commentaries. Translation published by 
the Halduyt Society. Herrera, however, supposes that Orellana may have con- 
tinued the voyage with Gonzalo's permission. 


stronger vessel. Think what a picture these iron-clad sol- 
diers must have made, with the naked Indians about them 
and the great rolling forest behind. 

On the 26th of August, 1541, Orellana and his men 
sailed out to the blue water, " without either pilot, com- 
pass, or anything useful for navigation ; nor did they know 
what direction they should take." Following the coast, they 
passed inside of the island of Trinidad, and so at length 
reached Cubagua in September. From the king of Spain 
Orellana received a grant of the land he had discovered ; 
but he died while returning to it, and his company was 

It was not a very reliable account of the river that was 
given by Orellana and his chronicler. Padre Carbajal. So 
Herrera tells their story of the warrior females, and very 
properly adds : ** Every reader may believe as much as he 
likes." Of these Amazon women, more anon ; whether they 
existed or not, they did not mix in white-race affairs, so we 
may dismiss them for the present. 

Lope de Aguirre's voyage, in 1561, has some similarity 
to Orellana's. He was one of those who followed Pedro de 
Ursua in his search for Omagua and El Dorado. They 
came down the river Huallaga to the Amazons, and there 
this Lope de Aguirre and others conspired against their 
chief, and murdered him ; elected Guzman to the command, 
and murdered him also ; finally, formed themselves into a 
piratical band, the '' Marafiones," * threw off allegiance to 
Spain, and continued their search for El Dorado to the east- 
ward. It appears that they followed down the Amazons to 
the Negro, and ascended that river to the Casiquiare canal, ^ 

* Whence, perhaps, the name of the river, Maranon or Maranhao ; but it is more 
probable that the word comes from the Tupi />araf/d. 


and so to the Orinoco ; by this latter stream they reached 
the sea. Their whole journey was marked by savage mur- 
ders, cruelty of every kind, brutality beyond parallel, even 
in the Spanish chronicles. "Traitor Aguirre," and ** ty- 
rant," the historians call him ; I wish that the hangman had 
found him before ever he left Peru. " It was noticed," says 
Padre Simon, '^ that he was growing morose because many 
days had elapsed since an occasion had offered to kill any 
one. * 

Lope sent a letter to King Philip of Spain — one of the 
most remarkable documents, in its way, that was ever pro- 
duced ; and in the matter of strong language it would be hard 
to match it : 

" I take it for certain," remarks this robber, " that few kings go to 
hell, only because they are few in number ; but that if there were many, 
none of them would go to heaven. For I believe that you are all worse 
than Lucifer, and that you hunger and thirst after human blood ; and 
further, I think little of you, and despise you all, nor do I look upon 
your government as more than an air-bubble." 

Aguirre's description of his voyage, in this letter, is a pithy 
resume of it : 

" They named me Maestro del Campo, and because I did not con- 
sent to their evil deeds, they desired to murder me. I therefore killed 
our new king, the captain of his guard, his lieutenant-general, four cap- 
tains, his major-domo, his chaplain who said mass, a woman, a knight 
of the order of Rhodes, an admiral, two ensigns, and five or six of his 
servants. It was my intention to carry on the war, on account of the 
many cruelties which thy ministers had committed. I named captains 
and sergeants ; but these men also wanted to kill me, and I hung them. 

* Primera Parte de las Noticias Historicas de las Conquistas de Tierra Firme. 
Translated and published by the Hakluyt Society. 


We continued our course while all this evil was befalling us, and it was 
eleven months and a half before we reached the mouth of the river, 
having travelled for more than a hundred days, over more than fifteen 
hundred leagues. This river has a course of two thousand leagues of 
fresh water, the greater part of the shores being uninhabited ; and God 
only knows how we ever escaped out of this fearful sea. I advise thee 
not to send any Spanish fleet up this ill-omened river; for, on the faith 
of a Christian, I swear to thee, O King and Lord, that if a hundred thou- 
sand men should go up, not one would escape." 

In a contradictory mood he finishes : 

" We pray God that thy strength may ever be increased against the 
Turk and the Frenchman, and all others who desire to make war against 
thee ; and Ave shall give God thanks if, by our arms, we attain the re- 
wards which are due to us, but which thou hast denied us ; and, because 
of thine ingratitude, I am a rebel against thee until death. 

(Signed) " LoPE DE Aguirre, the Wanderer." 

Fortunately, the madman and his crew were defeated in a 
battle with the royal forces ; on this he killed his own daugh- 
ter, ** that she might not be pointed at with scorn as the 
daughter of a traitor ; " and then gave himself up ignobly, 
when, as I am glad to learn, he was immediately put to death. 
Will-o'-the-wisp lights flicker on the llanos : the country 
people cross themselves when they see these reddish flames — 
*' the soul of the traitor Aguirre." * 

Para had already been founded, in 1616, when two monks 
of the Order of San Francisco came down the river. They 
had been driven from the Peruvian missions by savage In- 
dians ; they floated down in a canoe, with fear and trembling, 
'Mike persons who were each day in the hands of death." 
From Para these monks went on to Maranhao, where they 

* Humboldt : Reise. 


persuaded the governor, Noronha, to explore tne river and 
carry them back to Peru. Pedro Texeira was chosen to com- 
mand the expedition ; he set out in 1637, with over forty 
canoes, containing seventy Portuguese soldiers and twelve 
hundred Indians, with women and boys, — in all, two thousand 

Not all commanders are so well chosen. This man Tex- 
eira was gifted with prudence and wisdom ; but withal he was 
bold and persevering — ^just the man to carry a great expedi- 
tion through an unknown country. The Indians deserted 
him ; his soldiers would have turned back ; only his skill and 
tact kept them from open mutiny. Benito Rodrigues was 
sent ahead as pioneer ; the captain followed in his track, and 
so, after a whole year, they all reached the Spanish settle- 
ments in Peru. Texeira left the canoes in command of 
trusted officers, and went on to Quito. 

At that time Portugal and its possessions were united to 
Spain ; the Spanish viceroy, therefore, received Texeira with 
open arms, and not a little surprised he must have been at 
such a wonderful adventure. When Texeira returned, in 
February, 1639, a Jesuit priest was sent with him as a chron- 
icler ; this was Pedro Cristoval de Acufia, to whom we owe 
our first intelligible account of the river. 

I, for one, respect the old writer most thoroughly. One 
wades through scores of rubbishy books on Brazil, and this 
simple, vivid story shines forth a light in the darkness. I 
keep my Nicevo Desciibrimiento, with Bates, and Wallace, 
and Penna, for constant reference. It is true that Acufia 
gives credit to certain Indian fables, but he always presents 
these reports as such ; and I cannot wonder at his faith in 
them, remembering that the whole region was a terra incog- 
nita, which rumor had already peopled with El Dorados, 


and dwarfs, and one-eyed men. Now, when all men believe 
a thing, it is human nature to add our belief to that of all 
men, be it for graveyard ghosts or the atomic theory. If 
a hundred million Christians believed that the moon was 
made of green cheese, you and I would believe it too. 

Acufia does not fall into many errors. He speaks much 
of the tributaries, of the channels and islands, of the forest 
and the fertile soil ; and dwells strongly on the importance 
of the Amazons as a highway across the continent : I hope 
his dreams may be realized yet. One can sympathize with 
the enthusiasm which writes : " The river has rich reward for 
all who will come. To the poor it offers sustenance ; to the 
laborer, a return for his work ; to the merchant, employ- 
ment ; to the soldier, a field of valor ; to the rich, yet greater 
riches ; to the noble, honors ; to the powerful, estates ; and 
to the King himself, a new empire." 

Acufia and the others found a host of Indian villages 
along the banks, so close together in some places that they 
formed a continuous line. ** They are engaged in constant 
wars, in which they kill and take prisoners great numbers of 
souls every day. This is the drain provided for so great a 
multitude, without which the whole land would not be large 
enough to hold them." However, I think that the most of 
this population was close to the river-banks ; the deep forest 
was as wild as it is now, with only half-animal roving Indian 

The Indians found worse enemies than their own neigh- 
bors : Portuguese slavery on one side, Spanish bloodhounds 
and arquebuses on the other ; fighting bravely, or submit- 
ting as they might, they were swept away by thousands, un- 
til the land was left desolate. Already in Acuila's time, 
Benito Maciel was enslaving them on the Tapajos ; the Jesuit 



cried against this wickedness, as Jesuit missionaries cried for 
a century after, until they were driven out of the country. 
They were heroes, these priests ; bigots, I grant you, but 
their great hearts rose above it all ; even the wild savages re- 
spected them. The Amazons, to this day, would be as im- 
passable as Central Africa, but for the Jesuit missionaries — 
man-tamers and peace-makers worthy of their martyrdom.* 

The villages, now, are few and far between ; but there 
are good and gentle people in them, white or brown. They 

Indian Settlement. 

are close to the river-banks ; within there is only the thick 
wood, without roads, without paths even — the largest forest 
in the world. Suppose we allow two millions five hundred 
thousand square miles for the valley, the highest possible es- 

* The Jesuits taught in the I'mgua-g-eral^ a somewhat corrupted form of the Tupi, 
For a long time this language was used almost exclusively on the Amazons, but it 
is now supplanted by the Portuguese, in most places. 


timate of the population will give one million souls — two for 
every five square miles. The province of Alto Amazonas 
contains, in round numbers, seven hundred and fifty thousand 
square miles, and the whole registered population is hardly 
fifty-five thousand ; add to this the wild Indians, and we 
may possibly have one hundred thousand — one for seven and 
one-half square miles, and these few are gathered in villages, 
little specks in the wilderness. 

Imagine, if you can, this matted forest — this maze of col- 
umns, and branches, and leaves, and looping vines. Imagine 
a region where you must cut your path right and left ; where 
sunshine hardly reaches the ground ; where man is an in- 
truder — an insult, almost, to the solitude. There is no desert 
like this, for in the great plains of Asia and Africa you can 
look about and know if there be other human beings near 
you ; here, you could be but half a mile from one of these 
tiny villages — and you starving withal, blind to your safety, 
invisible to the world. 

You have heard that marvellous story of Madame Godin 
des Odonais : how she wandered alone through these forests, 
and yet was saved, as by a miracle. Twenty years she had 
been parted from her husband ; his letters to her had been 
lost by the faithlessness of a messenger ; she, in Quito, only 
knew of a Portuguese boat which was w^aiting on the Upper 
Amazons to convey her to him at Cayenne. 

Remember, this was in 1769, when even the mission- 
stations were very few. The route is difficult now, even for 
strong men ; but this Frenchwoman braved it when the at- 
tempt must have seemed like madness. Her father went 
before, to have men and canoes ready for her at each station, 
and she followed down the Bobonassa branch in a boat, with 
several persons. Two of these were her brothers, and there 

2 8 BRAZIL. 

was a nephew of nine or ten years, with a French physician 
who was travelHng the same way ; for servants she had a 
negro man and three women. Her father had arranged for 
their embarkation at Canelos, but meanwhile the small-pox 
had appeared there, and the Indians had left the place. So 
here they could get no crew, and the Peruvians who had 
come over the mountains with them would go no farther — 
deserted them in their sore need. Still, with two men who 
remained at Canelos, they ventured to embark ; but on the 
third morning these two deserted them also, and they had to 
go on without a pilot. The Bobonassa is full of rapids ; 
as might have been expected, their boat was presently upset, 
and the party was obhged to land. After that Madame 
Godin and her brothers resolved to remain on the bank, 
while the French physician and her negro slave went on to 
Andoas ; the Frenchman promised to send back a properly 
manned canoe for them within two weeks. Those who re- 
mained built a hut, and waited vainly for twenty-five days. 

Then, ''giving up all hope, they constructed a raft, on which they 
ventured themselves with their provisions and property. The raft, badly 
made, struck against a sunken tree ; all their effects were lost, and the 
whole party was thrown into the water. Thanks to the narrowness of the 
river at this place, no one was drowned, Madame Godin being happily 
saved after twice sinking. Placed now in a more terrible situation, they 
resolved to follow down the banks of the river. They returned to their 
hut, took what provisions they had left behind, and began their journey 
along the river- side. They found that its sinuosities greatly lengthened 
their way ; to avoid this they penetrated the forest, and in a few days 
lost themselves. Wearied by so many days' march through the midst of 
woods, their feet torn by thorns and brambles, their provisions exhausted, 
and dying of thirst, they seated themselves on the ground, too weak to 
stand, and waited thus the approach of death ; in three or four days they 
expired, one after another. Madame Godin, stretched on the ground by 


the corpses of her brothers, stupefied, delirious, and tormented with 
choking thirst, at length assumed resolution and strength enough to 
wander on. Such was her deplorable condition, that she was without 
shoes, and her clothes all torn to rags ; she cut the shoes off her brothers' 
feet, and fastened the soles on her own. It was on the ninth day after 
she left this place when she reached the banks of the Bobonassa ; she 
assured me that she was ten days alone in the woods — two awaiting death 
by the side of her brothers, the other eight wandering at random. On 
the second day's march, the distance necessarily inconsiderable, she 
found water, and the succeeding day some wild fruit and fresh eggs — of 
what bird she knew not, but by her description I judge that it was some 
kind of partridge ; she ate them with the greatest difficulty, her throat 
being so parched and swollen ; but these, and other food she accident- 
ally met with, sufficed to support her skeleton frame." 

When at length she reached the river, by the merest ac- 
cident she encountered two Indians who were just launching 
a canoe from the bank ; they took her to Andoas, whence 
she finally reached the Portuguese vessel at Tabatinga, and 
was conveyed to her husband. 

" The remembrance of the terrible spectacle, the horror of solitude 
and the darkness of night in the desert, had such an effect on her mind 
that her hair turned gray." * 

Since Madame Godin's time the forest has been traversed 
again and again, the river has been explored and re-ex- 
plored by a host of distinguished travellers, but to this day 
the country is as wild as she saw it. A few more villages 
there are ; a few more people in the old ones ; but far in the 
interior there are great tributary rivers of which we know 
nothing — Indian tribes who have never seen a white face. 

After La Condamine's time came Martins, studying the 

* Letter from M. Godin des Odonais to M. de la Condamine, published by the 


plants — '^ meiiie Freunde^'' he said ; sweet flowers and noble 
forest-trees, and waving grasses ; he wrote beautiful prose 
poetry about them. The Englishmen, Smythe and Mawe, 
and the Prussian, Poepig, explored the Upper Amazons ; 
D'Orbigny travelled on the Madeira, and Castelnau on the 
Ucayale ; Tardy de Montravel mapped the Lower Amazons ; 
and with these we come to the explorers of our own day. 

I have already spoken of Mr. Bates and his book. This 
gentleman was an English naturalist, who came to the Ama- 
zons in 1848, and lived in the river-towns for eleven years. 
Of course, he had far better advantages for studying the 
country and the people than a mere transient traveller ; his 
book is really invaluable for its descriptions, which are, be- 
sides, very readable. Mr. Wallace, who came with Mr. Bates, 
travelled at first in his company ; subsequently he explored 
the Rio Negro and its affluent the Uapes, and gave us much 
reliable information about a little known region. 

In 1850 the United States Government sent two naval 
officers, Lieuts. Herndon and Gibbon, to explore the Ama- 
zons valley. Herndon examined the Peruvian tributaries ; 
Gibbon visited the Bolivian ones, and the reports of both 
were subsequently published at Washington. They are 
crowded with information, reliable in most cases, but not 
very well digested. Agassiz' expedition is too well known 
to need comment. Mrs. Agassiz wrote a clever narrative of 
the voyage, but, beyond a few scientific papers, the results of 
the Amazons survey have never been published. Prof. 
Orton's book is comprehensive, but very unreliable ; for my 
part, I would far rather trust the much older American book 
of Mr. Edwards, which has no greater fault than the bad 
spelling of Indian and Portuguese words. 

One other American remains to be noticed. Prof Hartt 


came to the Amazons in 1 870, and again in 187I0 He ex- 
plored less and studied more — studied as few have the 
power to study, with marvellous acuteness and accuracy. 
There is hardly a superfluous word in his writings ; alas 
that there are so few of them 1 He died, before his work was 
half done, a victim of yellow fever at Rio de Janeiro. 

The Englishman, Chandless, merits hardly less praise ; to 
him we owe the careful explorations of the Puriis and Jurua, 
and a survey of the Tapajos through its whole length. A 
brave traveller he was, and a modest ; one would be glad of 
something more than his few papers in the Proceedings of the 
Geographical Society. 

Of Brazilian explorers, there are three modern ones who 
especially deserve attention : Penna, Barboza Rodriguez, and 
Coutinho. The first is a gentleman of Para, who has often 
been employed by the provincial government for the exami- 
nation of various districts ; his reports are good and very 
reliable. Dr. Barboza Rodriguez is a well-known Brazilian 
botanist, who was commissioned by the imperial govern- 
ment to collect and study plants. As an explorer he was 
enterprising and persevering ; as a writer he would be valu- 
able if he confined himself to facts : his absurd theories and 
constant quarrels with other authorities have hidden the 
real value of his work. Coutinho is a government engineer, 
who has travelled all over the Amazons valley ; readers of 
Mrs. Agassiz's book will remember how he was chosen to 
accompany the professor and his party. Coutinho's reports 
are not voluminous, but some of them are very good. 

One of the Brazilian Government explorations was placed 
in charge of Franz Keller, a German engineer. On his re- 
turn to Europe this gentleman published a book, which was 
subsequently republished in English. *' The Amazons and 


the Madeira River " is very readable, but its chief value 
lies in the magnificent illustrations from Keller's own pencil. 
I might mention at least a hundred other authors who have 
written about the Amazons : most of the Brazilian ones are 
buried in government reports ; the others wrote journals of 
travel and personal adventure, or historical notices of greater 
or less value. Any one who has been obliged to wade 
through this mass will be glad enough to be spared a re- 
hearsal of it. 

A great step in advance was made when steamboats were 
placed on the Amazons, in 1852. Of course, the line was run 
on a government subsidy ; every new enterprise must have 
a subsidy in Brazil. But since the first one was started, 
independent lines have sprung up, and they have succeeded 
very well. At first, the river merchants declined to submit 
to the innovation ; they shipped their rubber and cacao by 
canoes as before, until they learned that the steamboats 
could take them at half the expense and in a quarter of the 
time ; so the old canoe traffic was given up, new trading 
centres were formed along the river, and the steamboats 
became a necessity as much as they are on the Hudson. 

In 1867 Brazil opened the Amazons to all flags — made it, 
in fact, a free highway, like the ocean. But she forgot to 
take away the heavier burden of her export duties, and she 
could not give a population to attract commerce. It was a 
great step in advance, but a step that will be felt in the 
future more than in our day. Very few foreign ships come 
here now ; why should they come to these deserts ? 

Yet it is no wonder that Brazilians proudly call the Ama- 
zons the Mediterranean of America. Not alone for the main 
stream ; the great branches spread their arteries in all direc- 
tions, navigable often for hundreds of miles. And so the 


great stream flows on, through the richest region on earth, yet 
the least known ; where tropical heats are tempered by the 
refreshing trade-winds, and the cHmate is wholesome almost 
everywhere ; where all nature seems to invite man to come, 
yet the region of all others that man has forsaken — a glorious 
desert, an overflowing wilderness. 

Will the regeneration come soon ? Sooner than we look 
for, maybe. Brazil gave the signal by this opening of the river 
to free navigation. Bankrupt Peru dreams yet of her railroad 
over the Andes ; if she ever builds it, her commerce will go, 
not westward to the Pacific, but eastward to the Huallaga 
and Maraiion. The Mamore Railroad is surveyed around the 
falls of the Madeira. It may be abandoned for the present ; 
even if it is built now it will not be a paying enterprise for 
many years ; but some time it must become an achieved fact, 
and Bolivia will look back with wonder on her mule-train 
commerce. Colombia has had commissioners at work ex- 
ploring the lea, and steamboats have penetrated from Para 
almost to her capital. These are but signs ; and in South 
America the march of improvement is slow. But, be it soon 
or late, the destiny of the Amazons is sure. Even the Darien 
ship-canal, if it is ever made, cannot compete with this straight, 
deep channel for the trade of the western republics. 



THERE are white breakers on the Braganca shoal ; wind 
from the northeast, and three thousand miles of ocean 
vigor in its puffs. It slaps the waves into foam, and showers 
salt spray in your face, sweeps up the beaches and away 
through the dark forest and over the continent to the snow- 
caps on the other side. Trade-wind, forsooth ! Play-wind, 
race-wind, wake-up-wind, pitch-and-tumble-wind ; you pace 
the deck and stop every minute to draw a longer breath of it. 
So you get your portion of life from this air, as some hun- 
dred thousand trees are getting theirs on every square mile 
of the great plain. Give it yet another name : life-wind. 
The trees are waving and nodding in the fulness of their 
quiet joy ; out here the surf gleams, and the gulls are whirl- 
ing about in our wake, and you and I at the mouth of the 
Para river are enjoying it all. 

There is a line of forest to the south, with sand-beaches 
here and there ; to the north, only a blank horizon ; for this 
channel is thirty miles wide ; only far up, the shores of Marajo 
come in sight, another line of woods, just visible. Truth to 
tell, the Para is no more a river than Delaware bay is ; it is 
simply the broad estuary mouth of the Tocantins. With that, 
and the Guama, and what it may get from the Amazons, it 



has just enough of clay-stained water to tinge the sea a Httle, 
outside of Braganca. 

It is deep, and unobstructed in the main channel. The 
tide sweeps in and out, four miles an hour in some places ; 
sailing vessels must wait for it, rolling about beyond the 
bar. There is a queer little tub-like light-ship ; for the rest, 
nothing but red-sailed fishing vessels or pilot-boats, and 
the forest line, growing more distinct as we near it. After 
awhile we can distinguish a few tile-roofed buildings on the 
shore — brick-works, many of them, or farm-houses, with rows 
of cocoanut palms and bright green banana plants, and 
orange groves behind. The larger houses have little white 
chapels before them, and a cross by the water-side ; the 
thatched huts may belong to Indian or mulatto fishermen. 
Near the city the channel is narrowed by islands — and such 
islands ! All glorious they are with regal palms and tangled 
vines and tall forest trees. Then there is the little round 
cheese-box fort, in seeing which we speculate curiously 

The Fort, Para. 

whether the big gun on the parapet would be more danger- 
ous to a hostile ship or to the walls themselves : and we 
come to anchor three miles below Para. 

A city, this is, with a manifest destiny : a city of the 
future, that shall yet enrich the world with its commerce. 
Some time — who knows — it may be the true metropolis of 
Brazil. I can suppose that. Rio de Janeiro is far removed 


from the commercial world, a good five thousand miles from 
New York, and farther from Europe. Para is nearer by 
almost half that distance ; if it has not the harbor of Rio, it 
has what the southern city lacks — splendid water-communi- 
cation straight through the heart of the continent ; and this 
valley, if people did but know it, is the richest part of South 
America. Para has her title of nobility : by her situation 
she is queen of the Amazons. 

The city looks unimportant enough from the river ; a row 
of white- and yellow-washed warehouses along the water- 
front ; the ancient-looking custom-house ; and, rising over 
all, the square towers of two or three churches. Rampant 
swamp-forest draws close in on either side, as if it would re- 
claim its royal domain and bury the town in green glories ; 
turbid water sweeps angrily around the point, and the score 
or two of vessels lying before it tug at their anchors and rock 
uneasily. We sit on deck and watch the great purple storm- 
clouds piling themselves up in the eastern sky, and the sun- 
touched towers sharply outlined against them — purple pas- 
sion-robes for this tropic queen. And we dream of white- 
sailed vessels bearing to all climes the wealth of the Amazons 
and the Andes; rows of stately warehouses, and pillared man- 
sions, and parks that shall eclipse all art in their splendor of 
tropical vegetation. But then — so it goes with dreams — the 
purple clouds change to black and send down a deluge of 
rain over the ship, hiding our sunset towers and dissolving 
our air-castles. 

There are no piers, except the small ones of the Amazo- 
nian Steamboat Company. Freight is landed in lighters, and 
passengers and luggage are taken ashore in boats, whereof 
there is a small fleet, manned by exceedingly dirty Portuguese 
boatmen ; you pay from one dollar to ten, according to the 

PARA. . n 

state of the tides and your o\v^n state of greenness. However, 
our deep-draught steamer has to anchor so far below the 
town that it would be a long pull for the men and the pas- 
sengers' purses ; so a steam-launch is arranged for us all. 
We leave the good City of Rio de Janeiro a little loath, for 
it has grown home-like during our voyage ; we are proud of 
the ship as a splendid specimen of American skill, and proud 
of Captain Weir and his officers as American sailors and gen- 

We move up the river in the rich morning sunshine, land- 
ing at the custom-house wharf, where all foreign baggage 
must be examined. Climbing the oozy, half-ruined stairs, 
we pause curiously at the top to catch our first impressions 
of the city. There is a little pagoda-shaped building on the 
wharf, with sleekly dressed custom-house officials sitting by 
the door. Grouped around are negro porters, cartmen with 
red sashes about their waists, rough- looking sailors, women 
with trays of oranges, diminutive horses and donkeys drag- 
ging two-wheeled carts — a rich tropical picture in a glowing 
frame of sunshine. And now we notice that the sun makes 
itself felt less in heat than in light. The temperature is not 
oppressively high ; a New Yorker, transported to Para in 
August, would call it refreshing ; but, blazing and quivering 
in the air, streaming down through every alley, flooding 
streets and house-tops, comes the dazzling white light. Red 
and yellow colors are painful ; shadows are dark pits cut out 
of the ground, and an object in the shade is defined only by 
vivid degrees of blackness. It takes a long time for the eyes 
to accustom themselves to this superabundance of sunshine. 

The custom-house is an immense stone structure with 
two great towers at the end, recalling its ancient glories. It 
was formerly a convent, but, by the decay and final extinc- 



tion in Para of the order that tenanted It, the building re- 
verted to the government and was turned over to its present 
uses ; only the little chapel is still reserved for religious pur- 
poses. The walls are all blackened with mildew, and clusters 
of weeds grow about the tile-roof; within, the long, dark 
corridors and massive pillars stand in stern contrast to the 
piles of barrels and boxes and crates of wine. The walls may 
have their dark secrets ; many a noble life has burned itself 
out in these old convents. But our baggage inspector does 

At the Custom-house. 

not concern himself about that ; he glances through his gold- 
rimmed spectacles with a critical eye for our trunks and va- 
lises, and brings up no pictures of gray-robed monks and 
penitential tears. 

Speaking from my own experience, I have nothing to say 
against the Brazilian custom-house official, who is courteous 
enough, though with a consuming sense of his own impor- 
tance, developed precisely in inverse proportion to his rank 
in the service. Some travellers appear to think that they 

PARA. 39 

cannot pass the Brazilian frontier without bribing the officers. 
This is unjust. In all my travels I never paid out a milreis 
in that way, and never had occasion to. A little quiet polite- 
ness is all that is required. But then, in larger matters the 
custom-houses are as bad as similar establishments are the 
world over, and with the added stupidity of these petty offi- 
cers to make them worse. Cases of dishonesty are common 
enough, and illegal extortion is allowed more or less all 
through Brazil. Probably the Para alfandega is as good as 
any ; some of its rulers, I know, are excellent men ; but, even 
at the best, there are endless delays and troubles, and possible 
loss, for any one who has goods to bring through. 

From the custom-house, passing the line of stately royal 
palms by the water-side, we stroll down the Riia da Inipera- 
triz. It is a broad, well-paved street, with rows of prim- 
looking white and yellow buildings, two and three stories 
high ; tall, arched door-ways, and those ugly green doors 
that are seen in all tropical American cities. Here the 
largest wholesale houses are located — orderly establishments, 
the counting-room and warehouse generally together on the 
ground floor, while the stories above may be occupied for 
offices and dwellings. The proprietor looks cool and respec- 
table in his spotless white linen clothes. If we enter the 
store he will receive us politely, but in business hours he is 
not given to wasting time in words ; in financial matters we 
will find him careful and methodical — not easily outwitted 
even by a Yankee. In large transactions, the Para merchant 
is governed, perhaps, rather by a wholesome regard for the 
law than by any abstract moral reasoning. In retail busi- 
ness, I am bound to say that he is quite as reasonable as his 
northern brother. One seldom has occasion for " beating 
down " a shop-keeper. 


On the Rua da Imper'atriz we see nothing of that con- 
fusion of boxes and bales, carts and wagons, that character- 
izes a northern wholesale street. There are a few heavy 
carriages, but all burdens are carried on the heads of Portu- 
guese and negro workmen, or on the ugly little two-wheeled 
carts. One feature which strikes us favorably is the absence 
of that gaudy array of projecting signs, which is such an eye- 
sore in a northern city. Instead of being obliged to twist 
our necks, trying to find a name in the confusion, we see it 
printed in small, legible characters on the side of the white 
door- way, attracting the attention at once. But in the neigh- 
boring Riia dos Mercadores the retail stores are often cov- 
ered with kalsomine patterns, got up with an artistic eye to 
the possibilities of ugliness, and with whole advertisements 
printed on them. This Rua dos Mercadores may be called 
the fashionable shopping street, though the phrase seems 
misapplied in a place where ladies hardly ever enter a store. 
During the morning hours it is very lively, and not unpictur- 
esque. The dry-goods merchants hang bright-colored cloths 
and hammocks about their doors, and some of them have 
their shop-fronts decorated with gorgeous banners or huge 
gilt devices. Horse-cars (mule-cars, rather,) run through the 
street, and are generally well filled with pleasure-seekers go- 
ing to Nazareth, or business men coming from their houses. 
Looking down to the Largo do Palacio, you see the gray 
cathedral towers in the background rising above the low 
buildings of the street. 

The shops themselves are small, but well stocked ; the 
different branches of trade occupying separate establish- 
ments, as in a northern town. The scale of prices is in- 
structive. French broadcloths, silks and woollen goods are 
nearly, or quite, as cheap as in the United States ; cotton 

PARA. 41 

cloths, shoes, cutlery, etc., range from fifty to a hundred 
per cent, higher ; glass and wooden wares are abomina- 
bly dear; while coffee, sugar and cotton, which the country 
ought to produce in surplus, cost more than at home. 
Books and paper are high-priced and of very inferior manu- 

But the tropical side of Para commerce is seen in the 
market. We must visit it before the sun is high, for it is 
almost deserted later in the day. It occupies nearly a whole 
block ; approaching on the side of the Rita da luiperatriz 
we see nothing remarkable about the exterior, which is much 
like the v/hitewashed stores around it ; only, gathered about 
the high, arched door-way, there are groups of noisy ne- 
gresses, some of them with trays of fruit which they are 
retailing to passers-by — piles of glossy oranges, bunches of 
yellow bananas and plantains, fragrant pineapples and the 
less familiar mangoes and alligator-pears. Their business 
involves an immense amount of wrangling, but we can forget 
that in the artistic effect of the scene, the unconscious grace 
of attitude, and the richness of contrasted color in fruit and 
dress and shining black faces. Passing these, we enter the 
main building — a long, tile-roofed corridor, running around 
a square court, towards which it is everywhere open. The 
meat and fish-stalls are in this court. The corridor is lined 
with stands for the sale of fruit, vegetables, tobacco, and 
cheap trinkets. 

So much for the building ; but the scene within is inde- 
scribable ; it is not so much one picture as a hundred, all 
melting into one another, and changing and rechanging like 
the colors of a kaleidoscope. Not like a street scene with its 
rapid movement ; nobody is in a hurry, but hardly anybody 
is still ; as if the whole visible world were in a chronic state 


of sauntering. And we saunter along with the rest, watch- 
ing the animated groups around us. 

Standing here, we can get the background of that fruit- 
stand, with its heaped-up purple and gold. The coatless 
and barefooted fruit-sellers glance at us curiously as they wait 
on their customers — servant-girls, for the most part, who 
have been sent to fill their baskets with oranges and bana- 
nas. Here comes a dark-skinned Diana — a stately mulatto 
woman, with her crimson skirt gathered in picturesque folds 
at the waist, and her white chemise falling away negligently 
from one shoulder ; her fine face is set to an expression of 
infinite scorn, of withering contempt too deep for words. 
To be sure, all this acting is occasioned by a difference of 
three or four cents in the price of a string of beads, and the 
villanous-looking Portuguese gimcrack-seller who is the ob- 
ject of her wrath only laughs diabolically, and makes himself 
look a degree uglier than before ; soon she catches sight of 
an acquaintance, and her scorn melts into a broad grin. 
So the two stroll away together, chattering as only these 
women can. 

That dark, handsome fellow, daintily sipping his paper 
cigar, is a maineluco — so Brazilians call a cross between the 
Indian and white races. Something of the flashing Lusita- 
nian fire he has, shining through the indolent grace of his ges- 
tures ; much of the half-savage independence of his brown 
ancestors ; but the mixture is tempered neither by the intel- 
ligence of the white nor the docility of the brown races ; the 
mameliicos bear a deservedly hard name on the Amazons. 

Squatted on the stone pavement is a toothless old crone, 
half Indian, half mulatto, with a pot of yellow mingaic soup 
— a preparation of tapioca and bananas. Her customers — 
mostly Portuguese cartmen and sailors — receive their por- 

PARA. 43 

tions in black calabashes, and swallow the mixture with 
evident gusto, gossiping, meanwhile, with one another, or 
exchanging not over-delicate remarks with the negro and 
mulatto servant-girls who pass them. These latter bring 
pails and earthen pans on their heads, and a little farther on 
we see a score of them grouped about a butcher's stall ; the 
new-comers set their pans on the counter and produce little 
bundles of copper money ; the butcher cuts the meat into 
shapeless chunks and, by some feat of calculation, flings to 
each a share apportioned to the money she brought ; and 
the purchaser marches away with the pan of meat balanced 
on her head, her tongue running the while like a Chinese 
rattle. All the marketing is done in this way, through the 
medium of servants. 

Observe these baskets of black berries, like grapes in 
color and size ; they are the fruit of the Assai palm, the 
slender, graceful EtUerpe that we saw on the river-banks. 
One sometimes hears an alliterative proverb : 

^' Ouem veiu para Para parou ; 
Ouem bebeu Assai ficou : " 

which we may translate, as Mrs. Agassiz has done : 

*' Who came to Para was glad to stay ; 
Who drank assai went never away." 

It is well, then, for us to learn how this famous viiiho d' assai 
is made. 

In a dark little shed at the back of the court, two mulatto 
women are rubbing off the black pulp of the berries in great 
bowls of water, crushing them vigorously with their bare 
hands, and purpling their arms with the chocolate-like juice. 
After the first batch has been rubbed out, the Hquid is de- 
canted from the hard nuts to another lot of berries ; these 



latter being treated in like manner, the resulting thick soup 
is strained through a wicker-work sieve and dealt out to the 
eager customers. 

Yes, the Americajios will have assai, coin assucar ; so the 
little shirtless son scampers off after sugar. Ordinary cus- 
tomers at the stand are of the lower classes, who drink their 
two cents' worth of assai with only a little mandioca meal 
by way of seasoning. In the forest, where sugar was scarce 

Tne Assai' Stand. 

and the fruit plenty, I learned to like it quite as well so my- 
self ; its brisk, nutty flavor is rather spoiled by the sweet- 
ening. However, our new-comers may prefer the civilized 
side ; so the sugar is added, and we dip our moustaches 
into the rich liquid. Even the squeamish ones empty their 
bowls, and begin to suggest to themselves the possibility of 
entertaining another half-pint. Now talk no more of sherbet, 
and ginger-beer, and soda-water ; hereafter we abjure them 

PARA. 45 

all, if we may but have our purple assai. And observe — as 
Mr. Weller has it — that " it's wery fillin'." One can make a 
respectable lunch of Assai alone. 

Back of the market, by the water-side, there are other 
picturesque scenes. Here are numbers of canoes drawn up 
on the shore, the larger ones with a little cabin of palm- 
thatch or boards in the stern. The Indian and mulatto 
boatmen, for the most part, are selling their produce on 
shore, and some of them, no doubt, are getting beastly 
drunk on the proceeds ; the canoes, meanwhile, are occu- 
pied by their families, and one cannot help noting the 
marked difference of character displayed by the two races. 
The flashily dressed negresses and mulattoes are chattering 
and quarrelling at the tops of their voices, while their not 
over-clean children tumble about on the muddy shore, 
laughing, screaming, crying, as the case may be, but always 
making a noise of some kind. The Indian women, on the 
contrary, are very quiet, sitting still in the canoes, and per- 
haps carrying on a subdued conversation. They are dark ; 
not copper-colored, like our Northern tribes, but of a clear, 
rich brown. Some of the younger ones are decidedly hand- 
some, and almost all are exquisitely neat in their tasty, light- 
colored calico dresses, sometimes Avith simple ornaments. 
The children — little ones are dressed ait naturel — are shin- 
ing and clean and sleek, and always very quiet. You notice, 
also, that the brown people avoid the sun, but the black 
ones seem to revel in it."^ 

■^ One is reminded of Captain John Codman's observation: "When a white 
fireman on a steamer comes up from his watch, he always leans over the rail in the 
shade, where he can get the air ; but the negro fireman comes up at noonday, under 
a vertical sun, and throws himself down to sleep on a deck that would blister a 
rhinoceros." Ten Months in Brazil, p. 8i. The Indians are much more suscep- 
tible to heat than the whites are. 



Many of these Indians have come from surrounding rivers, 
a hundred, two hundred, occasionally even five or six hun- 
dred miles away. Most of them will sell their small cargoes 
and leave with the return tide. The women and children will 
see nothing more of the city than is visible from the water, 
or, at most, they will be treated to an hour's walk about the 
town, or a visit to one of the churches. And that is enough. 
They do not care to remain longer among the sweltering 

The Market Wharf. 

streets and glaring white walls. They long for their cool, 
shady forests, where they can swing their cotton hammocks 
by the water-side, and lounge away the hot noon hours, as 
free from care as the birds are above them. 

Besides the small canoes, there are many larger ones, be- 
longing to traders, who make long voyages on the upper 
rivers. They bring back forest produce which they have 

PARA. 47 

received in exchange for their wares. Here are bales of 
crude rubber, in flask-shaped masseS; as it came from the 
moulds ; tall baskets of mandioca-meal, the bread of the poorer 
classes ; bundles of dried salt piraruai fish ; bags of cacao 
and Brazil-nuts. There are turtles, too, reposing peacefully 
on their backs, and odd-looking fish, and pots of crabs and 
shrimps. Not a few of the canoes bring monkeys and par- 
rots, but their owners are loath to part with these. On the 
Amazons all classes are extravagantly fond of pets. 

Formerly all the commerce of the river was carried on in 
trading canoes. Now the steamboats have taken their place, 
trading centres have been established at various points along 
the river, and the canoes make shorter voyages. We can see 
the busy wharf of the Amazonian Steamboat Company from 
our breakfast-room at the Hotel do Commercio, and two or 
three of their vessels are lying in the river ; they make voy- 
ages, at longer or shorter intervals, to the Madeira, Purus, 
and Tapajos ; twice a month passage can be engaged to 
Manaos, and from thence other lines extend their trips almost 
to the base of the Andes. There are several smaller compa- 
nies, but they are all thrown into the shade by this rich 
Amazonian line, with its numerous branches. It has a large 
siibsidy from the government — too much, probably, for its 
wants, now that the enterprise is well established. 

The beauty of the river-view is not heightened by the fore- 
ground — a bare, muddy space half filled in to a wall along the 
river. This wall was built— how many years ago I know not 
— with the design of giving a deep water-frontage to the city ; 
but the river worked faster than the contractors. While they 
were building, it spread a great bed of mud outside of the 
wall ; and so in the end there was a bank there, uncovered at 
low water, just as before. Meanwhile the space between the 

48 , BRAZIL. 

wall and the old bank was a muddy pool, littered with gar- 
bage of every kind ; it would have bred a pestilence over the 
whole city, but for the daily washings it got with the tides, 
and the scavenger crabs that swarmed in it. It remained so 
for many years, an eye-sore to the city ; the provincial gov- 
ernment could never fill it, though the work was almost al- 
ways under contract. Now it is evened over, in great part; 
but it is useless, as we have seen, and one does not like to 
think of the money that has been wasted on it. This is only 
a type of the gross mismanagement that has disgraced Para. 
Now and then a good and efficient president will set his hand 
to a reform, and for a time he will work wonders ; but sooner 
or later he is certain to be ousted by the aggrieved politicians. 
Of course, with the mismanagement there is often dishonesty ; 
scandalous stories are told of the fabulous sums that have been 
sunk on this or that public work — stories that are strongly con- 
firmed by the impoverished state of the provincial treasury, 
and the reputed wealth of certain officials and contractors. 

At Para one day is like another. The mornings are cool 
and pleasant. From ten till two the heat increases rapidly, 
commonly reaching 90° or 91° Fahrenheit. A little later 
great black clouds appear in the east, spreading rapidly over 
the sky and turning the intense glare to a twilight darkness. 
The temperature is lowered suddenly; the wind blows in 
varying gusts ; then the rain comes pouring down in great 
dense masses, flooding the streets, hiding vessels on the river, 
drenching unlucky boatmen and their passengers, and — ere 
we know it, the sun jumps out, and there is only the van- 
quished cloud-army flying into the west. Sometimes the first 
shower is followed by another one, and even a third ; after 
that the clouds disappear, or hang like purple curtains on the 
western horizon. By sunset the ground is dry, and all nature 

PARA. 49 

is smiling. This is the rule all the year round ; only the wet 
season, extending from January to May, is distinguished by 
more copious showers, sometimes lasting until evening, with 
an occasional day or night of continued rain ; while, in the 
height of the dry season, a week may pass without any 
showers at all ; but even then the ground is watered by the 
heavy dews. 

Para would be a healthy city if sanitary rules were prop- 
erly observed. The streets, it is true, are kept decently clean, 
but in many of the houses there are filthy courts, the recepta- 
cles for garbage and rottenness of every kind ; it is a wonder 
that people can live within range of their stench. As it is, 
there are many cases of typhoid ; but yellow fever, though it 
appears nearly every year, takes a milder form than at Rio de 
Janeiro, and the number of deaths from it is not very great. 
Sometimes mtermittent fevers are prevalent. Pulmonary 
complaints are very uncommon. 

If we walk out after ijiidday, we find the streets almost 
deserted, though the heat is not excessive. At four o'clock 
the wholesale stores are closed, and the merchant goes home 
to his dinner. Retail establishments are kept open until after 
dark, but they do little business. 

The evenings are delightful. Walking out in the better 
quarters, we find the whole population out-of-doors; gentlemen 
sitting before their houses under the mango-trees, smoking, 
or sipping the after-dinner coffee, and enjoying themselves 
with their families. The merest chance acquaintance makes 
us welcome at once to these groups ; chairs are brought, 
coffee and cigars are served, and we may sit for an hour, 
chatting with our host and watching the groups around us. 

Out of business hours the Paraense is the most sociable 
person you can imagine. Pleasure is his occupation ; the 


cares of his counting-room are all locked up in the safe with 
his day-books and ledgers. You get acquainted despite of 
yourself; everybody knows everybody else, and insists on 
introducing him. I have found no other Brazilian city where 
there is so little ceremony. We see people dressed sensibly 
^in white linen ; except on state occasions, the sweltering 
black coats of the southern provinces are not de I'igiieur in 
Para. The women, too, wear natural flowers in their hair ; 
but in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia they must needs disfigure 
themselves with abominable French bonnets. 

Since the establishment of hotels, the rule of universal 
hospitality is no longer adhered to, but most of the better 
classes still keep open table to their acquaintances, at least 
for the late afternoon dinner. People live well and simply, 
though with too great a preference for animal food. Portu- 
guese or French wine is generally served with breakfast and 
dinner, and there is a light dessert of fruit. 

In domestic life, many of the old bigoted notions concern- 
ing women are still retained ; but at Para, one no longer sees 
ladies shut up from all intercourse with visitors, and banished 
from the table. In exact proportion to the advance of more 
liberal ideas, the standard of private morals has risen ; and 
though there is vast room for improvement in this respect, 
though infidelity on the part of the husband is even now 
looked upon as a venial sin, still vice has no longer that open- 
ness and unrestrained license that formerly made it painfully 

As in Rio de Janeiro the city merchant has his chacara in 
the outskirts, so here he has his rociiiha* — a country dwelling 
in the city, a house with ten acres of back door-yard. The 

* Diminutive of roga, a clearing. The word is apparently a provincial one. 

PARA. 51 

finest rocinhas are in the suburb of Nazareth, to reach which 
we can take the mule-drawn cars that we saw on the Rua 
dos Mercadores. The seats are well filled with passengers of 
both sexes and all colors, many of the laborers without coats 
and barefooted, but clean and neat. 

From the business part of the town we pass first through 
a series of narrow streets, where there is hardly room for 
passers-by to avoid the car. The streets are close and dirty 
and uninteresting ; black mould spreads itself on the kalso- 
mined walls, and weeds hang over the projecting tile-roofs. 
An apology for a sidewalk exists in some places ; but there are 
so many ups and downs to it that pedestrians generally prefer 
the roadway. We get glimpses of slovenly looking women 
peering out from behind the swing-blinds, and dirty children 
disappearing through the open door-ways as the car comes 
up ; looking in, we see nothing but blank white walls and 
bare floor. And down into the barren street the sun sends 
its liquid gold, and casts black shadows, just as it does in a 
thousand other ugly places. 

Turning next into the great Largo da Polvora, we pass on 
by the pillared Theati'o, one of the finest of the public build- 
ings, the white walls of which are well set off by the heavy 
foliage behind them. As for the LargOy it is a great, treeless 
waste, like a dozen others in the city ; but the sides are lined 
with magnificent dark mango-trees, and the houses are of a 
better class than those we have seen ; very fresh and pretty 
some of them are, with their facings of glazed white and blue 
tiles. We observe these tile-facings in many places along the 
Riia de NazaretJi^ where we turn off from the Largo ; decid- 
edly the prettiest dwellings in the city are here, and they are 
contrasted with rows of noble mango-trees, like those of the 
square. The gardens in front of some of the houses are stiff 



and pedantic, it is true ; but in this climate Nature gets the 
better of the gardeners, and, despite them, will disport her- 
self in glorious masses of foliage and bloom ; plants, such as 
grow in our green-houses at home ; but not the delicate nurs- 

The Theatre, Para. 

lings of the North ; great, hearty shrubs, with the vigor of 
their forest homes fresh on them, and their untrammelled 
roots sinking a yard deep into the rich loam. 

But the gardens are tame compared to those neglected 
rocinhas where the grounds are yard, orchard, wilderness, all 
thrown together ; where flowering vines clamber over the 
fruit-trees, and the rich flowers are smothered in richer 
weeds, and rampant second growth threatens to annihilate 
the whole estate, as it undoubtedly would, did not the in- 
habitants make a sally sometimes with axes and wood-knives. 
I think Nature here has a grudge against humanity, with its 
angular houses and fences ; she wants to round ofl* every- 
thing to suit her flowing fancy. But if, instead of the blows 
and hard words she gets, she were coaxed and patted on the 
back, how she would break out into smiles and loveliness ! 

PARA. 53 

Ah, well ! I suppose we shall go on abusing her while the 
world lasts ; but she will have her rights, for all that. From 
this primly dressed child, daubing and mussing its frock in 
the gutter, to the tumble-down houses of the side-streets, 
half covered with moss and weeds, she is forever picking up 
our ugly art and turning it into something picturesque. 
Even the new white chapel at Nazareth is getting its coating 
of gray and brown mould, and the artist will go on painting 
it with delicate touches, and rejoicing in its beauty, till Vandal 
man comes along with his whitewash brush and spoils the 
work of years. 

The chapel is dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Nazareth^ 
who is not to be confounded with Nossa Senhora of anything 
else. You see, this one is remarkable for a miracle which she 
performed in the eleventh century, when the devil, in the 
form of a deer, was leading a noble hunter over a precipice. 
As she saved the life of the hunter, she is entitled to especial 
regard — may be invoked, for instance, in cases where Nossa 
SenJiora da Esperanqa has given little hope, and Nossa Sen- 
hora de Beleni has failed utterly. 

Our Lady of Nazareth, then, is the patron saint of Para, 
and every year there is a grand festival given in her honor. 
Then the city is thronged with strangers, often from towns 
three or four hundred miles away. Our Lady is carried in 
solemn procession through the streets, and the church is 
daily filled with worshippers. The great square near by is 
lined with booths, and gay with flags and transparencies. 
Every night there is a display of fire-works ; costume dances 
are extemporized ; theatres with execrable actors attract the 
public, especially on Sunday evening, and for a week the 
city is given over to universal enjoyment. People are or- 
derly and quiet. There is less hard drinking than you see 


on any holiday at the North, and scarcely any quarrelling and 

I do not think there is a very strong religious feeling 
either in Para or in the other Brazilian cities. The more 
ignorant negroes and mulattoes delight in the brilliant cere- 
monies of the Catholic Church. Better educated people 
yield a discreet assent to the forms and observances, but 
there is very little deep feeling underlying their zeal. The 
explanation is to be looked for in the utterly corrupt con- 
dition of the clergy. In Brazil a virtuous priest is the ex- 
ception. I do not say that there are none who do their duty 
with zeal and reverence, and practise their own precepts; but 
the majority lead lives that give the lie to their preaching, 
and bring the church into disrepute with all thinking men. 

The present Bishop of Para is one of those remarkable 
men whose names will always be landmarks in the history 
of the Church. Pure in his own life, he has gathered around 
him a body of young priests who emulate the sacrifices and 
virtues of the early Jesuit missionaries. I have met these 
young men at Para and in some of the river towns. One 
of them I esteem as a personal friend — a man whose life is 
above reproach, and whose scanty income is all expended 
in deeds of charity and kindness. If the bishop is to be 
praised for this work, he is unquestionably to be censured 
for his interference with political matters. The feeling is 
rapidly advancing in Brazil that church and state must be 
disunited. If the ecclesiastical power meddles with the secu- 
lar one, there is always strong comment. Sometimes the 
government resists the priests, and then there is a storm, 
often ending in popular tumults, as was the case recently in 
Pernambuco. The bishop holds, in the fullest sense, that the 
state should be subservient to the church, and the whole to 

PARA. 55 

the See of Rome. Hence he is unpopular with a large class 
of the people. These, led by the Masonic brotherhood — a 
body of great political importance in Brazil — keep up a de- 
termined resistance to the bishop and his party. 

Emphatically, an American need not fear to express his 
principles in Brazil ; he is protected as well by public opin- 
ion as by the government. Even the priests, who might be 
supposed to be intolerant, will discuss theological differences 
with the utmost good-nature, and with no small powers of 

We can visit the churches almost any morning, or go to 
hear high mass at the Cathedral on Sunday. There is more 
glitter and ceremony than in our northern Catholic churches. 
Worshippers stand and kneel on the stone floor, for there 
are no seats. The churches are high and rather bare, except 
around the altar. One sees three or four conspicuous life- 
size figures of saints, which, on certain days, are carried 
through the streets in procession, with ringing of bells and 
firing of rockets, attended by red and green coated brother- 
hoods, and dainty little child-angels with spangled dresses and 
gauze wings. For the rest, religion involves nothing more 
than an occasional visit to the confessional, and pretty liberal 
contributions to the church treasury and to the poor. 

Aside from the churches and the custom-house, we shall 
find little to interest us in the public buildings. The presi- 
dent's palace is a great, glaring, barrack-like structure, look- 
ing out on one of the squares. Within, it is richly furnished, 
but with that stiffness and lack of ornament that characterize 
all Brazilian dwellings. The episcopal palace is still worse ; 
jammed in among the surrounding buildings, it looks like a 

It is a pity that the Paracuses have left their public 



squares the weed-grown wastes that they are. Only in some 
of them there are picturesque wells, and, of a sunny day, 
when our walks take us past these, we see groups of noisy 
washerwomen drawing water over the curb, and spreading 
their clothes on the grass to dry. There are no water-works 
aside from these wells. Water is hawked about the town in 
great hogsheads set on ox-carts and attended by rough-look- 
ing Gallegos* with red scarfs and glazed hats. As for milk. 

The Washerwoman — Para. 

that is carried around by the cow, who, with her bleating 
calf tied to her tail, is driven from door to door and milked 
in sight of the customers. Of course, under these circum- 
stances, watered milk is unknown. 

There are a hundred other odd characters in the streets ; 
bakers with great baskets of bread ; negro women selling 

* A term of reproach, originating in the hatred of the Portuguese for the Span- 
iard, and especially for the natives of Gallicia. 



sweetmeats, or pots of assai, or tapioca soup; porters carry- 
ing heavy trunks on their heads, and so on. Ladies buy 
their dresses by samples carried around from house to house. 
Servants pass by with a dinner or supper nicely laid out on 
a tray : it is the custom here ; if you engage board with a 
family, the meals are brought to your room. 

When we have "done" the streets, and the dirty little 
wine-shops, and the animal store, with its monkeys and wild 

" Monkey Joe's." 

hogs and boa-constrictors and electric eels, we have yet the 
never-failing beauty of vegetation in the outskirts. Every- 
thing seems buried in green ; here is a ruined house, for 
instance — a wonderful picture, enshrouded in flowering vines 
until hardly a beam or a square inch of wall is visible ; a 
rolling, tumbling, roUicking mass of foliage ; the very ruin 


seems to catch the infection, passing its last days in a kind 
of tottering hilarity. And so it is with everything on which 
this rampant plant-life can get a hold ; palings, stumps, 
heaps of rubbish, are all draped and curtained and padded 
with vines and weeds, till their rough angularities have dis- 
appeared under the soft curves, as you have seen a pile of 
sticks covered with snow. 

The Monguba avenue has lost much of its ancient glory ; 
the trees, for some reason, are dying, and no care is taken to 
renew them. But the Estrada de Sao Jose more than fills 
its place. There is something so wonderful in the stately 
simplicity of palm-trees, and these royal palms* are among 
the most beautiful of their tribe. Looking down the long 
avenue, we see the feathery tops almost meeting overhead, 
and quivering with the lightest breath of wind, lending, 
somehow, a kind of dignity to the tapering stems, which do 
not sway as other trees do, even in a storm. 

We can follow out this road to the gas-works, and back of 
that to the wet ground near the river ; there the second growth 
is one tangled mass, with palms and vines and great glossy 
Arums by the water-side ; not the little arrow-heads of our 
brooks, but trees, with leaves a foot long and almost as broad, 
like polished shields among the vines that clamber over them. 

But the most beautiful suburban road is that leading 
north from the city to the river Una. If you would see it at 
its best, avoid the hot hours ; come in the cool morning, 
when the leaves are fresh, and all the world of insect and 
bird-life is out to bathe in the early sunshine. Beyond the 
narrow streets we find a broad, straight road, with deep 
ditches, and palings on either side ; the ditches almost invisi- 

* Oreodoxa regia : an imported species. 



ble in the heaped-up masses of plants that cover them, and 
every yard of the palings an exquisite picture. The roci- 
iihas are far back from the road — long, low buildings, some- 
times with the tile-roof projecting on all sides, to form a 
broad veranda ; the yards all weedy and tangled and glori- 
ous, half hiding the 
whitewashed walls. 
Of the fifty kinds of 
vines, the most con- 
spicuous here are 
Convolvidi^ some of 
them very like our 
morning-glories ; 
here and there we 
notice a cypress-vine 
peeping out from 
among the others, 
the same pretty, ten- 
der thing that it is at 
home. Where the 
vines give them 
space, there are great, 
sprawling Lantana weeds, and Solanacece, allied to our pota- 
toes, but these stand bolt upright, ten or twelve feet high, 
and their great pale leaves have scattered spines over the 
surface. For the rest, there are sensitive mimosa-bushes, 
like brambles, and arums along the ditches, and a host of 
other plants, small and large, that I do not even know the 
names of; all heaped over each other and rolled into beautiful 
masses, a delight to the eye. 

Farther on, the houses disappear almost entirely; — are lost 
in the thickets, perhaps, and the people only find them by 

Estrada de Sao Jos^. 


these little crooked paths. There are low, swampy tracts by 
the roadside, and second growth, with the vines everywhere; 
not clambering up the tree-trunks merely — burying them, 
spreading in great masses over the tops, hanging down in 
splendid green curtains, binding tree to tree so that you can- 
not see a foot into the woods. Here and there an assai palm,* 
or a miriti^^ or an inajd, \ rises out of the drift and spreads 
its great glossy leaves to the sun ; the vines avoid palm-stems, 
perhaps because they give no good support for their fingers. 

Sometimes we see a branch with another kind of drapery ; 
nests of XhQJapiin birds § hanging like rows of socks — or, sug- 
gests one, like the tails of little Bo-peep's flock that were left 
behind them. A garrulous, noisy creature is the japim ; the 
hanging villages are lively from morning till night with the 
gossip and scolding. This species has a glossy black and 
yellow coat ; in shape it is like our blackbird, to which, in- 
deed, it is allied. Brazilians delight to have the japins about 
their houses ; sometimes the young birds are kept indoors, 
and, as they grow, they become as tame as kittens. On the 
trees I have often seen fifty nests together.] 

There are a good many small birds about the thickets ; 
tanagers and finches, and rarely a hummer darting about the 
flowers. Pretty green lizards scuttle off* through the leaves ; 
there may be ugly, crested ones lurking about the shady 
places, and snakes possibly ; but we see nothing of these. 
The bright beetles and spiders are hidden, too ; but looking 
down the road we can see hosts of dragon-flies darting about 
as thickly as a swarm of bees. Some of these dragon-flies 

'^ Euterpe edulis. + Mauritia flexuosa. 

X Maximiliana regia. <J Cassicus icteronotus. 

II A kind of wasp builds in the same trees ; the Indians say that it is never found 
except with the japins. 

PARA. 6 1 

are remarkable for their bright red bodies ; others are green 
and black, Hke our northern species. Besides these, the con- 
spicuous insects are butterflies ; common kinds, such as are 
seen in open places, but some of them are as bright-tinted as 
flowers. The strangest are the Heliconii^ with very long 
wings and slender bodies. They fly feebly about the flowers, 
and never seek concealment as other species do. But you 
will notice that the birds, most expert butterfly-hunters, never 
touch a Heliconius. The insects are protected by a very 
strong, disagreeable odor, which is quite as disgusting to the 
birds, it would seem, as it is to us. Mr. Bates, who published 
a beautiful monograph of these butterflies, has shown that 
the slow flight and carelessness of concealment are only a 
natural result of the immunity they enjoy. 

In the woods beyond there are other butterflies ; hand- 
some species, with yellow and red markings, quaker brown 
ones along the ground, and now and then a splendid blue 
Morpho flapping lazily over our heads. Under the arum- 
leaves we find lovely creamy Hclicopi, with trail dresses span- 
gled with silver ; of all the forest beauties these- are the 
prettiest and most delicate. There are hundreds of other 
species, but they require careful search ; you must come to 
the forest day after day, and traverse every path, before you 
can amass such collections as Bates and Wallace tell of. 

The forest here is second growth, probably, but it is a 
hundred feet high, rising like a great hedge on either side 
of the road. There are cart-paths running through it, and 
farm-houses beyond, and then more forest stretching away 
into the untrodden interior ; everywhere the same tangle of 
branches and vines without number. 

We are not likely to meet with such a glimpse of still-life 
as I once had near by here. It was on a forest road, two or 


three miles back from the city ; the way was arched over- 
head, so that the sunlight broke through only at intervals. 
Some tree or vine had been shedding its blossoms, deep pur- 
ple-blue cups strewing the ground beneath like a carpet ; here 
these stray sunbeams dropped, a kind of weird blue light 
against the shadows behind ; so strange the effect was, so 
unreal, that I stopped in astonishment before I saw what it 
was. Now, if an artist painted such a scene, people would 
cry out, " Unnatural ! " But every artist knows that Nature 
gives these unnatural touches now and then. 

At the end of this Una road there is a great, tile-covered 
building, the public slaughter-house. This is the gathering- 
place of the city vultures ; rows of them are sitting on the 
fences around, or hopping about awkwardly as they quarrel 
over bits of offal. Ugly creatures, truly, on the ground ; but 
you forget all about that when they are in the air ; then they 
are the most stately of all birds. We watch them circling 
over our heads : hardly ever moving their wings, but they 
soar almost out of sight. The wonder is, what carries them 
up ; an old question that has never been answered satisfac- 
torily. No doubt the wind aids them.* 

River-fish swarm about the slaughter-house : bloody /}ira- 
nhaSy no doubt, and acards^ and fifty other kinds. We find 
the curious little Anableps tetropJithabmcs swimming along 
the surface. The eyes are divided, so that each has two 
pupils ; of these, the upper pair are for the air, and the lower 
for the water ; a most curious contrivance. The fish keep 
near the shore, and however you may chase them, they will 
never dive. 

* Standing on a high hill, I have seen a vulture make a dozen turns about my 
head, falling with the wind, and rising against it, but never moving its wings at 



It would be worth our while to follow up the Una in a 
canoe ; there are palms on the banks, and broad-leaved wild 
bananas, and I know not what of the grand and beautiful in 
plant-life. So it is all about the city ; the plants overrun 
everything ; they invade even the church-roofs, and rows of 
bushes grow along the eaves. 

We can visit the Botanical Garden, where the not very 
elaborate culture has only given Nature a better chance to 

The Botanical Garden. 

show her skill. And when gardens, and outskirts, and second 
growth are all familiar, a little walk beyond the city limits 
will bring us to the high forest, thick, dark, massive, where 
the few roads are mere paths, and one may lose himself 
almost within sight of the cathedral towers. 

Two hundred and fifty years have not insured his domain 
to man ; petty strifes and revolutions have stirred the city, 
but the forest looks down on them all and shames humanity 


with its steadfastness. A story on fifteen square miles of 
cleared land. What is that to the leagues beyond ? I am 
half ashamed to tell it. 

Maranhao had been colonized by the French as early as 
1594. In 161 5 the Portuguese, under Jeronymo de Albu- 
querque, dispossessed them, and founded a new captaincy, 
which included not only the present province of Maranhao, 
but all the Amazons valley. As soon as tranquillity was 
assured on the coast, measures were taken to secure the 
Amazons region against the Dutch trading colonies which 
were reported there ; and to this end, an expedition of 
one hundred and fifty men was sent, in three canoes, with 
the brave Captain Francisco Caldeira de Castello Branco 
as leader. Caldeira had orders to establish a colony at the 
mouth of the Amazons, and to expel the Dutch. He and 
his company left Maranhao on Christmas day, 161 5, and 
followed the coast and the left shore of the Para river, until 
they reached a dry point at the mouth of the Guama, where 
they deemed it best to locate their new city. No doubt 
Caldeira knew well enough that he was not on the main 
Amazons ; but with the small force at his command, it 
would have been unwise for him to be separated from the 
main colony, as he would have been on the northern side of 
Marajo.* He began immediately to build a fort, which he 
called Santo CJiristo, and the settlement itself was named 
Nossa Senhora de Belem ; a title which it still retains on 
official papers. t It is said that the site selected was already 
inhabited by warlike Indians. Caldeira not only succeeded 

* Visconde de Porto Seguro : Hist. Geral do Brazil, Tom. I., p. 451. 

+ In full, Nossa Senhora de Belem do GrSo Pard. Para seems to a coruptella of 
the Tupi word Parana, a sea, applied to large rivers, and especially to the Amazons 
and the Para. 

PARA. 65 

in subduing these, but by their aid he kept the surrounding 
tribes at bay, until his fortification was completed.* He 
might have gone on prosperously with their aid, but he 
presently learned of a colony of unfriendly Dutchmen, three 
hundred or more, who had established themselves on the 
northern side of the Amazons, "with two palisades to pro- 
tect their plantation, especially of tobacco, cotton, and anat- 
to, trading also in timbers." As this force was double his 
own, our captain was discreet enough to send for aid ; a 
ship was despatched to Portugal, but as he had no other 
vessel to spare, he resolved to send word overland to Ma- 
ranhao. Pedro Texeira (the same who afterward explored 
the Amazons, and brought Acuila down from Quito), was 
chosen for this difficult service ; he set out with three white 
companions and thirty Indians, and at the end of two months 
arrived in Maranhao, greatly to the surprise of the dwellers 
there, who were far from expecting a white man from this 
quarter. In after-times there was a road from Para to Ma- 
ranhao, but it has grown up long ago, and you never hear 
now of a land journey from one city to the other ; I doubt 
if it could be made without great difficulty and danger. 

Help came from Maranhao, and the colony prospered at 
first, until its peace was disturbed by internal feuds. Cal- 
deira was deposed by the colonists, and Balthazar Rodrigues 
de Mello was placed at their head. Meanwhile, the surround- 
ing Indians took advantage of these quarrels, and a host of 
them, under the chief Guaimiaba, laid siege to the city. 
This state of things continued till the arrival of the new cap- 
tain-general, Jeronymo Fragoso ; he drove away the Indians, 
and summarily imprisoned not only Balthazar, but Caldeira 

* Berredo : Annaes do Maranhao, p. 407. 


also, sending them both to Pernambuco, the then metropohs 
of Brazil. As soon as his authority was established, he be- 
gan a destructive war on the Indians, carrying his arms far 
up the Amazons, and spreading desolation among the vil- 
jaees. It was in this war that Bento Maciel Parente first dis- 
tinguished himself as an Indian hunter, *' so that the gover- 
nor himself was obliged to stop him." But about this time 
Fragoso died, and there was a long quarrel about his suc- 
cessor, resulting finally in the selection of Bento Maciel him- 
self, who built a mud fort at Para, and went on enslaving In- 
dians to his heart's content, until he was superseded in 1626. 
Upon that he repaired to Spain,* and brought forward a 
patriotic plan of his for enslaving the whole Amazons, after 
the style then in vogue among the Spaniards. 

'' For these reasons," he says, " your majesty should create a bishop, 
and send priests, who, with all fervor, shall apply themselves to instruct 
the Indians. And for the sustenance of this bishop, and his ministers, 
you should give in charge f the conquered people, as has heretofore been 
done in the Spanish Indies. Considering that, by divine precept, all 
creatures are obliged to give to God and to his ministers a tenth of their 
harvests, and as among the Indians it would not be easy to secure this 
tenth, seeing that they neither respect the commandment nor know how 
to count as far as ten, your predecessors (in the Spanish Indies) com- 
manded that such tithes should be ipaidper capita. 

" In the Spanish Indies, every man and his wife pay a certain an- 
nual sum, according to the fertility of the land, and by this rule it would 
appear convenient that every Indian of Maranhao should pay per year 
three ducats, either in money, or in the fruits which he raises, or in 
personal service ; dividing the products into three equal parts " (here 
comes the gist of the matter), " one for the bishop and his priests, one 
for Your Majesty, and the other for THE COMMEND A DO/? TO whom 

* Portugal and its dominions were at this time imder the control of Spain. 
+ Encomendar : which you can translate, if you please, "farm out." 

PARA. 67 


priests will take with them many relations and poor persons, to live in 
the new lands, who will go, hoping with the favor of the priests to secure 
grants of lands to cultivate and tax, and every Indian, having his own 
master, will be defended and preserved, and cured when he is sick, and 
exercised in war, so that he shall aid in defending the land and in con- 
quering others. It is a manifest mistake to suppose that this method of 
conquest is unjust and violent to the Indians ; because tithes are com- 
mended by divine precept; the holy popes have applied them for the 
expenses of the conquests, and the taxes are only a right of those who 
with arms aid in these conquests, and thus serve God and the king." * 

Fortunately for the Indians, Maciel's project was never 
carried out; and though the Portuguese masters were unjust 
and cruel, it must be said that they never showed themselves 
as murderous as the Spaniards. Bento Maciel went down to 
universal execration. His son of the same name was worthy 
of the father. Acuna tells how he found one of his expedi- 
tions about to proceed against the Tapajoz Indians, and he 
relates with indignation how these men obtained from the In- 
dians their poisoned arrows, under pretext of a surrender ; 
but, having thus disarmed them, they forced the Tapajozes to 
give up all the prisoners which they held of other tribes, and 
these were carried away as slaves. t 

The Paraenses distinguished themselves in the recovery 
of Maranhao from the Dutch, and when, in 1641, Portugal 
threw off the Spanish yoke, they were among the first to 
welcome the change. But you must not look upon Para as 
a city yet. At this time it seems to have been remarkable 
rather for the great number of religious institutions than for 
any commercial importance. 

*Petigao dirigida pelo Capitao-mor Bento Maciel Parente ao Rei D. Philippe IIL 
t Nuevo Descubrimiento, LXXV. 


'' It is joyful and full of fruit trees. There are four hundred inhabi- 
tants, the most of whom are cultivators. There are four monasteries, 
Sao Antonio, Carmo, Merces, and that of the Company of Jesus ; a 
city church and two others, and a hospital; all of which are sustained by 
the inhabitants with their alms. There is a fort, well enough defended 
by three companies of infantry. The people make much tobacco ; and 
there is here much cotton and cloves, which, being wild, are differ- 
ent from those of India. The land is great, and would hold many 
people; the Indians, when the Portuguese arrived, were more than six 
hundred villages of Tiipinanibds and Tapitios, but in war with the Por- 
tuguese the Ttipiiiavibd nation was destroyed ; many Indians died in 
the war ; others retired to the interior ; and those who assist the Por- 
tuguese to-day are fifteen villages, w^orking on the farms for two yards 
of cotton cloth every month, which is the price everywhere ; besides 
many slaves which they ransom* from the wilderness." f 

The question of enslaving the Indians was agitating all 
Brazil at this time. Father Antonio Vieira, at the head of 
the Jesuits, sought to save them from this fate, and in the 
end the whole government of the Indians was delegated to 
the Jesuits themselves ; they labored to bring their charges 
together in villages — the universal policy of the Jesuit mis- 
sionaries. No doubt they sometimes turned the brown labor 
to their own advantage, for even in those early days the 
Jesuits began to show that they were human. But we can 
let that rest ; we owe to them the taming of a large portion 
of the Indians — those, I mean, who were not destroyed by 
the Portuguese and Spanish oppressors. The slave-makers 
were quarrelling with the priests by this time ; in Para they 
placed all sorts of obstacles in the way of Vieira and his 

* Resgatar, a term then, and now, used to express the buying of Indian prisoners, 
or their forcible seizure from the tribes in which they are captive. 

tMauricio de Heriarte : Descrip9am do Maranham, Para, etc., 1662. Published 
by the Visconde de Porto Seguro. 

PARA. 69 

men, but for the present they were beaten. The Indian 
slave-trade was carried on furtively, but the price of this kind 
of labor became so high that the planters began to import 
negroes from Africa ; and so a third race came to take part 
in the history of the Amazons. 

A dangerous element, too, which made itself felt in the 
after-revolutions. The Jesuits were expelled in the end, and 
wholesale Indian slavery was never carried out. Gradually 
the slave-making subsided to the form which is still found on 
the upper rivers, though it is entirely illegal, — the buying of 
captives and retaining them as servants until they are of age. 
The shipments of slaves from Africa were not large ; the 
Paraenses were too idle or proud to do their own work and 
build up the country on a sound basis ; they cried, as they 
cry now, for bracos — arms to work for them. The people 
began to interest themselves in forest industries — rubber, 
drugs, Brazil-nuts, and so on — and these natural riches be- 
came a positive hinderance to the country, because they drew 
attention from agriculture. Finally, to set the province back 
still more, there came the tumults of 1823 and 1835. 

The independence of Brazil had been proclaimed in 1822, 
and D. Pedro I. had been inaugurated at Rio, but the north- 
ern provinces were by no means inclined to follow the 
movement. At Para, many of the most influential merchants 
were loyal Portuguese ; there was political ferment and a 
gradual dividing up into parties, but no direct outbreak 
against Portugal until April 14, 1823. Joao Baptista Balbi, 
an Italian, seems to have been the prime mover of this first 
revolt ; with him were associated a number of officers in the 
different regiments, notably a certain Captain Boaventura. 
Early in the morning of this 14th of April, the conspirators 
gained admittance to the artillery quarters (Balbi counterfeit- 


ing the voice of the colonel) and captured all the officers, 
without the least resistance. Meanwhile, Boaventura and 
his comrades succeeded in forming one of the regiments 
in front of their barracks ; to these there came a squadron 
of cavalry, and, being ordered thereto, all together gave a 
chorus of vivas for the emperor, apparently without well 
knowing what it was all about. Presently another regiment 
was formed and marched out to meet the first one. Boaven- 
tura shouted Viva o hnperador f and all the soldiers shouted, 
*' with great enthusiasm," say the chroniclers. But their 
major, Francisco Jose Ribeiro, was not in favor of the 
movement ; he slipped in a little speech in favor of the 
king of Portugal, and, as everybody was silent, he immedi- 
ately declared that the third regiment was not in favor of 
Brazilian independence ; whereat the soldiers opened their 
mouths, and, not knowing what to say, shut them up again, 
and viva'd nobody. Boaventura, not being equal to this 
unexpected emergency, immediately posted off to the artillery 
quarters, where his friends had the guns arranged to sweep 
the street. At this moment one of the disarmed officers ran 
to a gun, reversed and fired it, killing a sentinel and wound- 
ing a sergeant ; he was immediately shot down. Beyond 
this there was no blood shed ; the infantry regiments, being 
now under Portuguese officers, were marched against the 
conspirators ; a discharge of grape would have scattered 
them, no doubt ; but Boaventura would allow no resistance ; 
he stood in a theatrical attitude, with folded hands, declaring 
that no drop of blood should be spilled ; he and his com- 
rades were presently marched away under guard, and the 
soldiers went to bed again. The end of this sleepy little 
revolt was more serious. No less than two hundred and 
seventy citizens were condemned to death, but were sent to 

PARA. 71 

Lisbon for execution ; many died on the passage, through 
the barbarous treatment that they received ; those who 
escaped were finally liberated.* 

A few of the conspirators, who had escaped, formed a new 
revolt at Muana, on the island of Marajo, and these were only 
beaten after a hard battle. They were marched to the Para 
prisons ; " and while passing through the streets they were 
jeered at and hooted by the Portuguese party, some of whom 
had whips and clubs publicly hanging from their windows." f 

However, the national feeling began to grow ; it was 
strengthened by the weakness of the Portuguese government, 
and a decisive event presently turned the city over to the 
emperor. At that time the Englishman, Lord Cochrane, 
was in charge of the Brazilian navy ; he had captured Ma- 
ranhao, and now he sent Captain Grenfell with a ship, to 
bring Para into subjection. Grenfell had orders to feign an 
approach of the whole fleet, which he did so well that the 
provincial junta immediately gave in its adhesion to the 
emperor, and Grenfell was welcomed to the city. 

When the deception was discovered there was a good 
deal of discontent in the Portuguese party ; about this time, 
also, an extreme liberal party began to make its appear- 
ance in Para, and between the two the place was in a fer- 
ment. Allegiance to the emperor was solemnly proclaimed 
on the 1 2th of October, but it was well known to the liberals 
that there were still a number of Portuguese sympathizers in 
the junta, and their dismissal was demanded. On the night 

* A specimen of Portuguese justice, which has too often been repeated in Brazil, 
People are not legally condemned to death, except in rare instances ; but they are 
illegally murdered in prisons and prison-ships. I am glad to say that there are 
reforms in this respect. 

+ D. A. Raiol : Motins Politicos da Provincia do Para, Tomo I., p. 59. 


of the 15th a revolt broke out among the soldiers who favored 
the emperor. Three regiments joined together and marched 
to the arsenal, and a well-known liberal, the Canon Baptista 
Campos, was forced, much against his will, to lead them. A 
crowd of people joined the soldiers ; they shouted for arms, 
which were given them ; then they marched to the palace, 
where they demanded that Baptista Campos should take the 
presidency. He and others succeeded in calming the crowd, 
but squads of half-drunken men wandered about the streets 
all night, Now, as in after-times, the liberal party evinced 
a spirit of deadly hatred against the Portuguese. A number 
of their shops were sacked and burned ; on the succeeding 
night the same scenes were repeated. 

The junta sent in haste for Grenfell to put a stop to the 
revolt. He came with a body of marines, and disarmed all 
the regiments that had taken part in the uproar ; they were 
marched to a public square, and there one man was chosen 
from each of the five regiments, and shot down without 
mercy. The Canon Baptista Campos, who was by no means 
to blame for it all, was tied to the muzzle of a gun, and a 
lighted match was held ready ; he was commanded to confess 
before he was blown away. But for this time the Englishmen 
saved that punishment for the Sepoys ; the junta interceded 
for Campos, and he was carried on board the captain's ship, 
whence he was subsequently sent to Rio. 

Meanwhile the remaining soldiers were marched to prison ; 
presently after they were transferred to a brig in the river, 
and there the whole two hundred and fifty-six were shut into a 
part of the hold, *'* thirty spans long, twenty wide and twelve 
high," * and left for the night. The air was calm and very 

* Evidently a mistake, but these are the dimensions given by Brazilian vv^riters. 


warm. The crowd begged for drink, and brackish water from 
the river was lowered to them in a can — poisoned, some say. 
The prisoners got little good from it, at any rate ; they threw 
off their clothes ; crowded to get a breath of air from the one 
gangway ; turned raving maniacs at length, with their suffer- 
ings, and began to tear each other with their nails and teeth. . 
A quantity of lime was thrown down on them, shots were 
fired into the hold, then the gangway was closed, and after a 
while the noise ceased. In the morning they opened the 
hold and found a heap of two hundred and fifty-tw^o dead 
bodies ; four only, who had concealed themselves behind a 
hogshead, were still breathing ; of these, three died the next 
day, and the fourth lived for some years, in great suffering, 
the only survivor of this black scene. It is difficult to sup- 
pose that the junta intended the death of these men, the most 
of whom were ignorant soldiers, and only dangerous when 
led by unprincipled men. Grenfell must have been to blame 
for the massacre, to a certain extent at least ; he provided the 
ship, and had the prisoners taken on board. Certainly, he did 
not show by his subsequent acts that he was at all just or 
merciful. The junta declared that the prisoners, actuated by 
the same spirit that led them to revolt, had killed each other 
in a mad frenzy. Of course the liberals magnified the crime, 
and made the most of it. 

There was no peace for the province. Even after the 
empire was fully acknowledged, the division of parties con- 
tinued as strong as ever ; on the one side an invincible 
hatred of the Portuguese and a general running to anarchy ; 
on the other hand an equal hatred for the liberals and 
all sorts of oppressions. The prisons and prison-ships were 
crowded with rebels and ** suspects," who died there by 
hundreds ; for years the city and country were full of tu- 


mults. The Canon Baptista Campos had returned from 
Rio, and now took the lead of the extreme hberal party. 
With the abdication of Pedro I., and the regency, there came 
new disorders. There was an insurrection in August, 1832, 
and another in April, 1833 ; then, after half a dozen changes, 
there came an unpopular president, Lobo de Souza, from Rio 
de Janeiro. This man succeeded in stirring the people to a 
new revolt ; one of their leaders, Lieutenant-colonel Malcher, 
was imprisoned ; finally, on the 7th of January, 1835, a great 
mob of liberals, led by a Sergeant Gomes, overran the city; 
murdered the president and the military commandant, as well 
as a score of Portuguese merchants ; released Malcher from 
prison and placed him in the presidency, on the understand- 
ing that he was not to be superseded from Rio until the 
majority of Pedro II. One Francisco Pedro Vinagre, a rub- 
ber trader, was placed at the head of the troops. This man 
was a mere anarchist ; he presently quarrelled with the new 
president, incited his partisans against him, and after a three 
days' battle in the streets, Malcher was deposed and mur- 
dered, and Vinagre took his place ; subsequently he gave up 
the city to another president, Rodriguez, from Rio. Vinagre 
himself was then imprisoned, a measure which infuriated the 
populace to the highest degree. They called to their aid 
the ignorant Indian and negro population ; a host of these 
cabanaes assembled in the outskirts of Para. Vinagre's 
brother, in the name of the crowd, three times demanded 
the release of their leader ; and when this was peremptorily 
refused, the whole rabble poured in upon the city like an 
avalanche. Now the cry was ** Death to the whites!" and 
** Death to the freemasons!" For nine days there was a 
horrible battle in the streets. Vinagre himself was killed. 
Aid for the law-abiding party was sent from English and 

PARA. ' 75 

French vessels in the river, but the president was too 
cowardly to avail himself of it. In the end, every respectable 
white was obliged to leave the city ; many escaped on board 
vessels in the river, and finally to the island of Tatuoca, some 
miles below. There, it is said, five thousand persons died of 
disease and starvation.* 

Rodriguez made occasional raids on the cabanaes ; but 
the city was given up to complete anarchy. Disorders broke 
out among the rebels, and mutual assassinations became com- 
mon. *' Business was effectually broken up, and the city was 
as fast as possible reverting to a wilderness. Tall grass grew 
up in the streets." f 

The cabanaes overran the whole province except Cameta 
and the region above the Rio Negro. A more frightful 
civil war has never been recorded. This was not merely 
a war between two sections ; it was a struggle of parties, 
neighbor against neighbor, a massacre in the streets, a chas- 
ing through the forests and swamps. To this day old men 
will tell you brave stories of the great rebellion ; how they 
fought hard with this or that party ; how brothers were 
killed and families driven away ; how men were shot down by 
scores because they would not renounce their partisan tenets. 

In April, 1836, President Andrea arrived from Rio de 
Janeiro, and drove out the rebels ; gradually the interior 
towns gave way, but it was a long time before the excite- 
ment subsided. Even now one hears of the extreme repub- 
licans or communists, but it is difficult to estimate their real 
force. Hatred to the Portuguese is still a part of their creed ; 
the overturning of both church and state power seems to be 
their ultimate object. Now and then they issue an incen- 

* Edwards : Voyage up the Amazon, p. i6. 

t Kidder: Sketches in Brazil, ist edition, vol. ii., p. 318. 


diary placard, warning their opponents to " remember the 
days of '35." Party spirit runs high ; often the elections end 
in an uproar ; but beyond these ebuUitions the province has 
been quiet from 1836 until now, and it would be wrong to 
judge the Brazilian character by those sad days. The people 
are hot-headed; in the excitement of political strife they 
were carried to deeds which they would not have dreamed 
of in sober moments ; as for the Indians and blacks, they 
followed in the wake of their leaders, and, being ignorant, 
often went beyond them in cruelty, as a child is more 
unreasoning in its passion than a man. They are tame 
enough now, and very good and quiet people, as we shall 
find them in our travels. The lower classes are no more to 
blame for tumults than waves are for beating down a light- 

With all these storms Para has gone on slowly ; the 
metropolis of the Amazons, she is still a city of forty thousand 
inhabitants, at most. Aside from her most important export 
— rubber — she sends us Brazil-nuts, cacao, and various drugs ; 
but sugar, coffee, and cotton are largely exported from the 
south, and the immense riches of Amazonian timber are 

The time must come when all these things, and more, will 
fill the markets of Para ; when the Pacific republics will make 
the Amazons and its metropolis the guardians of their com- 
merce. The northern channels are more or less obstructed 
near the mouth, and the furious currents make it difficult for 
vessels to enter ; it is not probable, then, that Macapa or 
other northern ports will ever offer any serious rivalry to 
Para. As commerce increases a new port will be formed, 
eight or ten miles below the present one, where the banks 
are high and the river deep enough for the largest steamers. 

PARA. ']'] 

Already there is a much-talked-of project for building a rail- 
road to this point ; when this is done the old city will still be 
the residence of the richer classes, but foreign trade will all 
turn to the new harbor. 

Soon or late the future of Para is secure. A century 
hence the ships of all nations will crowd to her wharves, 
bearing away the riches of half a continent. Assuredly it 
will be our fault if we do not profit by the commercial centre 
that is forming so near us. To turn this tide of wealth to 
our own doors, while yet the stream is small, is a problem 
that may well engage the attention of our rulers and of every 
thoughtful American. 



WE have come to the Amazons, not as sight-seers 
merely, but to study the great valley — to get an 
Intelligent idea of the country. Our first step, then, is to 
distinguish between the main-land and the flood-plain ; we 
must divide these two in our minds as sharply as they are 
divided in nature. The main-land is always beyond reach 
of the floods, though it may be only a few inches above 
them ; it has a foundation of older rock, which crops out in 
many places. The flood-plain, on the contrary, has clearly 
been formed by the river itself ; its islands and flats are built 
up of mud and clay, with an occasional sand-bank; but they 
are never stony, and only isolated points are a few inches 
above the highest floods. In their plants and animals the 
two regions are utterly distinct — as much so as America and 
Europe ; yet we shall find some resemblances that are full of 
interest. Having separated our two worlds, we must trace 
out their connections and mutual dependencies. 

I have used the term ** main-land," as the Brazilians use 
terra fir^ne, in contradistinction to the varseas, or vargens^ 
flood-plains. But we must remember that bits of terra firme 
may be cut off to form islands in the river or in the flood- 
plain; and, vice versa, great tracts of varzea are often joined 


to the high land. The division is one of structure, not of 

In this chapter we have nothing to do with the higher 
land ; our first rambles will be among the islands and chan- 
nels of the varzeas, with their swampy forests, and great 
stretches of meadow, and half-submerged plantations. These 
plains are not a distinctive feature of the Amazons. Nearly 
all great rivers have flood-lands near their mouths ; on the 
Lower Mississippi, for example, there are wide reaches of 
swamp-land, with a net-work of bayous and lakes. But on 
other streams the plains narrow ofif as we ascend, and are 
soon lost ; on the Amazons alone they extend almost to the 
head-waters, as if a sea had been filled in, leaving deep 
ditches for the water-flow and countless pools over the sur- 
face. From Manaos to the Atlantic the width of this allu- 
vial flat varies from fifteen miles to a hundred or more ; on 
the Upper Amazons it is probably still wider ; * only as we 
approach the Andes, the rocky shores are narrowed to the 
main stream. 

We leave Para with the midnight tide ; by gray morning 
we are steaming across the Bay of Marajo, which is not a bay 
at all, but properly a continuation of the Para river, or its 
connection with the Tocantins. The wind blows briskly over 
the wide reaches, swaying our hammocks under the arched 
roof of the upper deck ; we roll our blankets closer around 
us, and let who will retreat to the stifling state-rooms. But 
if Boreas cannot unwrap us, Phoebus brings us out quickly 
enough ; we jump up with the sun shining In our eyes, and 
all around the bright waves leaping and dancing for joy to 
see the beautiful morning. 

* I am not personally familiar with the river above Obidos. 


We have a dozen fellow-passengers, such people as you 
will see on any of the Amazonian steamers ; most of them are 
traders from the river-towns, or government officials — good- 
natured people, and not unpleasant companions, though their 
ideas of refinement are crude enough ; one or two, however, 
are of the educated class, intelligent and gentlemanly. As 
for the ladies, they keep to their cabin for the most part, only 
coming out bashfully at meal-time. The absence of cere- 
mony on board is very enjoyable. We lounge in our ham- 
mocks during the hot hours, smoke, and read, or watch the 
shores. Our table is spread on deck, breakfast at ten o'clock, 
dinner at four, and tea at seven ; aside from the peculiar 
Brazilian cookery, we have no fault to find with the food, 
which is good* and plentiful; the second- and third-class 
passengers, a hundred or more, fare much worse. The 
steamboat itself is of English build, and rather old-fashioned ; 
latterly a few American vessels have been introduced, and if 
these give satisfaction, the Brazilian companies are likely to 
buy of us hereafter. 

Marajo Bay is broader even than the Amazons ; there 
are great reaches of open horizon up the Tocantins and off 
toward the sea. But farther on we enter the system of pas- 
sages that separate Marajo Island from the main-land, where 
the steamer keeps close to the forest-clad shore. The oppo- 
site shore may still be a quarter of a mile away, although 
these channels are generally described as only just wide 
enough for the steamer to pass through them ; a natural 
mistake, because the towering forest makes them look nar- 
rower. Most of them are as broad as the Hudson at Albany. 

Any one who is not blind must feel his soul moved within 

* On some boats. But the Amazonian Company should reform the service of 
certain vessels. 



him by the marvellous beauty of the vegetation. Not a bit 
of ground is seen ; straight up from the water the forest rises 
like a wall — dense, dark, impenetrable, a hundred feet of leafy 
splendor. And breaking out everywhere from among the 
heaped-up masses are the palm-trees by thousands. For here 
the palms hold court ; nowhere else on the broad earth is 
their glory unveiled as we see it ; soft, plumy y?ipatis,* 

Breves Channe 

drooping over the water, and fairy-light assais-\ and bussiisX 
with their light green, vase-like forms, and great, noble, fan- 
leaved miritis% looking down from their eighty-feet high 
columns, and others that we hardly notice at first, though 
they are nobles in their race. If palms, standing alone, are 
esteemed the most beautiful of trees, what shall we say when 
their numbers are counted, not by scores, nor hundreds, but 
by thousands, and all in a ground-work of such forest as is 

* Raphia tedigera. 
X Manicaria saccifera. 

t Euterpe edulis. 
§ Mauritia flexuosa. 


never seen outside of the tropics ? The scene is infinitely 
varied ; sometimes the pahii-trees are hidden, but even then 
the great rolHng mass is full of wonderful changes, from the 
hundred or more kinds of trees that compose it ; and again 
the palms hold undivided sway, or only low shrubs and deli- 
cate climbing vines soften their splendor. In most places 
there are not many large vines ; we shall find their kingdom 
farther up the river, and on the highlands ; here we some- 
times notice a tree draped with pendent masses, as if a green 
tapestry were thrown over it. Down by the water's edge 
the flowering convolvuli are mingled with shield-like leaves 
of the arborescent arums,* and mangroves standing aloft on 
their stilt-like roots, where they are washed by the estuary 

The Indian pilot points out numbers of rubber-trees, f and 
we learn to recognize their white trunks and shining bright 
green foliage. This low tide-region is one of the most im- 
portant rubber districts, where hundreds of seringiieh'os are 
employed in gathering and preparing the crude gum. Oc- 
casionally we see their thatched huts along the shore, built 
on piles, and always damp, reeking, dismal, suggestive of 
agues and rheumatism ; for the tide-lowlands, glorious as 
they are from the river, are sodden marshes within, where 
many a rubber-gatherer has found disease and death. 

The little town of Breves owes its prosperity to this dan- 
gerous industry. It is built on a low strip of sandy land, 
with swamps on either side coming close up to the town ; 
even along the water-front the main street is a succession of 
bridges. But the houses are well built of brick or adobe, 

*Caladium arborescens, etc. 

tSiphonia: several species are admitted, of which this appears to be the true S. 


and the stores contain excellent stocks of the commoner 
wares. The place looks fresh and pretty enough ; the mias- 
ma of the swamps does not often rise to the highlands, so we 
are not loath to remain here for a few days and study the 
rubber industry more closely. 

In the river-towns there are no hotels ; but we are pro- 
vided with a letter of introduction, which insures us a hearty 
welcome and a home as long as we care to stay. For the 
Amazons is a land of hospitality. Out of Para, a stranger, 
even unintroduced, will always find shelter and food, and for 
the most part without a thought of remuneration ; but, if on 
a longer stay he occupies a house of his own, he will be ex- 
pected to extend the same hospitality to others. 

The rubber-swamps are all around, but land travelling is 
out of the question. So an Indian canoe-man is engaged, — a 
good-natured fellow, and an adept in wood-craft. He sets 
us across the river at a half-ruined hut, where bright vines 
clamber over the broken thatch and hang in long festoons in 
front of the low door-way ; but within, the floor is sodden 
black clay, and dark mould hangs on the sides, and the air is 
like a sepulchre. The single slovenly niaineluca woman who 
inhabits the place complains bitterly of the ague which tor- 
tures her ; yet, year after year, until the house falls to pieces, 
she will go on dying here, because, forsooth, it is her own, and 
the rubber-trees are near. She will not even repair the struc- 
ture. You can see sky through the roof ; but if rain drives 
in she will swing her hammock in another corner, and shiver 
on through the night as best she may ; for to-morrow there 
are rubber-trees to be tapped, and a fresh harvest of the 
precious milk to be brought home,— and what will you have ? 
One must expect discomfort in a swamp. 

Back of the house the rubber-trees are scattered through 



marshy forest, where we clamber over logs, and sink into 
pools of mud, and leap the puddles ; where the mosquitoes 
are blood-thirsty, and nature is damp and dark and threaten- 
ing. Where the silence is unbroken by beast or bird — a silence 

that can be felt ; it is 
Hke a tomb in which 
we are buried, away 
from the sunshine, 
away from brute 
and man, alone with 
rotting death. The 
very beauty of our 
forest tomb makes 
us shudder by its 

In the early mor- 
ning, men and wo- 
men come with bas- 
kets of clay cups on 
their backs, and lit- 
tle hatchets to gash the trees. Where the white milk drips 
down from the gash they stick their cups on the trunk with 
daubs of clay, moulded so as to catch the whole flow. If the 
tree is a large one, four or five gashes may be cut in a circle 
around the trunk. On the next day other gashes are made 
a little below these, and so on until the rows reach the ground. 
By eleven o'clock the flow of milk has ceased, and the serin- 
gueiros come to collect the contents of the cups in calabash 
jugs. A gill or so is the utmost yield from each tree, and a 
single gatherer may attend to a hundred and twenty trees 
or more, wading always through these dark marshes, and 
paying dearly for his profit in fever and weakness. 

The Rubber-Gatherer. 



Our nianieliLca hostess has brought in her day's gathering 
— a calabash full of the white liquid, in appearance precisely 
like milk. If left in this condition it coagulates after a while, 
and forms an inferior whitish gum. To make the black rub- 
ber of commerce the milk must go through a peculiar process 
of manufacture, for which our guide has been preparing. 
Over a smouldering fire, fed with the hard nuts of the tticuind 
palm,* he places a kind of clay chimney, like a wide mouthed, 

Preparing Rubber. 

bottomless jug; through this boido the thick smoke pours in 
a constant stream. Now he takes his mould — in this case a 
wooden one, like a round-bladed paddle — washes it with the 
milk, and holds it over the smoke until the liquid coagulates. 
Then another coat is added — only now, as the wood is heated, 
the milk coagulates faster. It may take the gatherings of 

* Astrocaryum tucuma. A common substitute is the fruit of some Attalia. 


two or three days to cover the mould thickly enough. Then 
the rubber is still dull white, but in a short time it turns 
brown, and finally almost black, as it is sent to the market. 
The mass is cut from the paddle and sold to traders in the 
village. Bottles are sometimes made by moulding the rub- 
ber over a clay ball, which is then broken up and removed. 
Our old-fashioned rubber shoes used to be made in this 

During the wet months, from February until June or July, 
this ground is under water, and the seringaes are deserted by 
every one. The floods would not entirely interrupt the gather- 
ing, were it not that the gum is then weak, and of compara- 
tively little value. Besides, the trees need this period of rest 
to make up for the constant summer drain. The rubber 
months, then, are from June or July until January or Febru- 
ary, varying somewhat with the year and the district. Dur- 
ing this period, many thousand persons are employed in 
tapping the trees. All of them are of the poorer class — Indi- 
ans, mulattoes, and Portuguese immigrants, who like nothing 
better than this wandering, half- vagrant life. 

Around Breves, rubber is almost the only product of the 
lowlands ; * the whole region is simply an endless succession 
of channels, and small lakes, and swamps covered with 
forest — beautiful beyond thought from without, a dismal 
wilderness within. From the village we could take canoe- 
trips in almost every direction, and return by different routes 
to our starting-point ; or we could spend days in voyaging, 
and never repass a place. 

If we could only transport some of this forest to a north- 
ern park ! If we could bottle up the sunshine and let it 

* When planted, however, the tree will grow on the terra firme. The seeds are 
floated about in the water, and naturally lodge in the lowland swamps. 


loose in Broadw^iy ! Our canoe passes along by shores 
where we would fain pause at every turn to catch some new 
effect of light and color ; and as w^e are looking at the oppo- 
site side, our man may keep the boat steady by holding on 
to a palm-tree or an arum-plant which would draw half the 
people in New York to see it, if we could set it in one of 
the squares. 

And now we turn into a narrow channel, a mere cleft in 
the forest-wall ; it is not more than ten yards wide, but, as in 
all these forest streams, the depth is considerable ; hence, 
the Indians call such channels igarapes, literally, canoe-paths. 
There is a richness about all water-side vegetation that makes 
even our northern woodland streams superbly beautiful ; but 
here the foliage is far thicker and more varied, and, among 
the dark leaves, drooping palm-fronds and great glossy wild 
bananas spread their warm tropical splendors. One thinks 
of a temple : the arching boughs, the solemn cathedral shade, 
the sunshine breaking through to cast long trails on the quiet 
waters and drop golden glories over the tree-trunks and 
crooked water-washed roots, while tiny leaflets catch the 
glow and shine like emeralds and diamonds in the dark 
forest setting. Even the Indian boatman dips his paddle 
noiselessly, as if he feared to disturb the Sabbath stillness. 
There is not much of animal motion ; only now and then a 
brown thrush crosses the stream, or a ciiajitd bird sounds his 
shrill alarm from the tree-tops, or great butterflies come 
waving along like blue silken banners, casting vivid reflec- 
tions in the water, so bright are their glossy wings. But we 
must learn that solitude, not life, is the grand feature of 
these forests. 

The Breves swamps are a type of that great region which 
I may call the tide-lowlands. Nearly all the alluvial plains 


about the Para and Lower Tocantins are of this character ; 
along the southern side of the Amazons the same features are 
seen almost to the Xingii ; swampy forests cover the south- 
western half of Marajo ; and beyond the Amazons there are 
other tracts on the northern side. Everywhere one finds 
damp woods like these of Breves, with numberless palms,* 
abundance of rubber-trees, mangroves along the shores, and 
so on. This land is flooded every year, as the rest of the 
varzeas are ; but besides this, the tides sweep through the 
channels every day, and overflow much of the ground, so 
that it is always wet. Rich vegetation and fever-breeding 
malaria depend alike on these daily soakings. 

Breves is built on one of those spots oi terra fir me which 
are found along the southern and eastern side of Marajo, 
almost to the ocean. Most of them are occupied by little 
villages — trading-places for rubber and cattle. Beyond these 
the whole island belongs to the flood-plains, about equally 
divided between forest and meadows. The former is the 
tide-lowland region which w^e have been exploring ; the lat- 
ter occupy the northwestern half of the island — great level 
reaches, where thousands of cattle are pastured in the dry 
season. On the meadows there are little clumps of trees at 
long intervals ; sometimes these ilhas de inato form lines that 
seem to be impenetrable forests ; but often the plain will be 
unbroken to the horizon — " a tranquil sea, where the geogra- 

* The palms of the tide-lowlands, so far as I know them, are as follows : 

Mauritia flexuosa ; Irartia exorrhiza ; 

Mauritia carana ; ^ Leopoldinia pulchra ; 

Euterpe edulis ; . Desmoncus sp. ; 

Bactris maraja ; Rhaphia tedigera ; 

Ostrocaryum murumuru ; Manicaria saccifera. 

CEnocarpus sp. (Pindassti) ; 
The two latter seem to be peculiar to this region. 


pher can take his astronomical observations as easily and 
securely as on the ocean itself." * 

The meadows themselves are flooded only during the 
rainy months ; then canoes, and even small steamers, can 
pass over them. The cattle fazendas are abandoned ; herds 
are driven to the highest points ; the few people who care to 
remain are tortured with fever and mosquitoes, and they can 
only pass about in canoes. " In half-flooded places," says 
Penna, " you will sometimes see a small canoe tied to the 
tail of an ox, and dragged thus through the water, while the 
owner sits on board and guides the animal." 

In the dry season the meadows themselves are never 
muddy, but they are interrupted here and there by strips of 
marsh-land. These marshes are not at all like our Breves 
swamps ; they are full of arborescent arumst and other broad- 
leaved plants, thickets ten or twelve feet high ; but there is 
no forest, unless in little patches. The swamps and chan- 
nels are the breeding-places of numberless wading and swim- 
ming-birds, and of alligators and snakes not a few. Mr. 
Edwards will pardon me for quoting his bright description 
of one of these places : 

" Turning suddenly, we left the bordering forest for a cane-brake, 
and instantly broke full upon the rookery. In this part the scarlet ibises, 
particularly, had nested ; and the bended tops of the canes were cov- 
ered by half-grown birds in their black plumage, interspersed with 
many in all the brilliance of age. They seemed little troubled at our 
approach, merely flying a few steps forward, or crossing the stream. 
Continually the flocks increased in size ; the red birds became more 
frequent, the canes bent beneath their weight like reeds. Wood-ibises 
and spoonbills began to be numerous. The nests of these filled every 

* D. S. Ferreira Penna : A Ilha de Marajo, p. 17. 
t Caladium arborescens. 


place where a nest could be placed ; and the young ibises, covered 
with down, and standing like so many storks, their heavy bills resting 
upon their breasts, and uttering no cry, were in strong contrast to the 
well-feathered spoonbills, beautiful in their slightly roseate dress, and 
noisily loquacious. Passing still onward, we emerged from the canes 
into trees ; and here the white herons had made their homes, clouding 
the leaves with white. We wandered a long distance back, but the nests 
seemed, if anything, more plentiful, and the swarms of young more dense. 
At the sound of the gun the birds in the immediate vicinity rose in a 
tumultuous flock, and the old ones circled round and round, as though 
puzzled to understand the danger they instinctively feared. In this way 
they offered beautiful marks to our skill ; and the shore, near the canoe, 
was soon strewed with fine specimens. Evidently this place had been 
for many years the haunt of these birds. Not a blade of grass could be 
seen ; the ground was smooth and hard, and covered with excrement. 

" Occasionally, and not very rarely, a young heedless would topple 
into the water, from which the noses of alligators were constantly pro- 
truded. Buzzards, also, upon the bank, sunned themselves and seemed 
at home ; and not unfrequently a hungry hawk would swoop down, and 
away with his prey almost unheeded. 

" It was late when the tide turned, and we hastened away, with the 
canoe loaded to overflowing. The birds seemed now collecting for the 
night. Squads of bright-colored ones were returning from the shore, 
and old and young were settling on the canes over the water, like swal- 
lows in August. An alligator gave us an opportunity for a last shot, and 
the air was black with the clouds of birds that arose, shrieking and cry- 
ing. I never conceived of a cloud of birds before." * 

Marshes among the meadows are called baixas, to dis- 
tinguish them from the forest swamps, or ygapos. Some- 
times, also, the name vioiidongo is used, but this belongs 
especially to a great marshy tract running through the centre 
of the island. It is a dreary soHtude, full of alligators and 

* Edwards : A Voyage up the River Amazon, p. 242. The book was out of print 
long ago ; it deserves a new edition. 



mosquitoes without number. Sr. Penna concludes, with 
much reason, that it is an old channel of the Amazons, 
which has been filled up and converted into swamp. Most 
of the baixas were formed in the same way, by the filling 
in of lakes and channels, and the invasion of aquatic plants 
over the shallows ; many have been so covered within his- 
torical times. There are still a number of small lakes ; a 
larger one, Arary, is almost in the centre of Marajo ; within 

At Breves. 

this lake there is a small island, celebrated for the ancient 
Indian utensils which are found on it.* 

I wish we had time to explore the island ; but the steam- 
er is here to take us away from Breves. We carry off a 
thousand pleasant memories, and, as souvenirs, a lot of the 
fearfully ugly painted pottery for which the place is famous. 

* Some of this pottery was described and figured by Pro£ C. F. Hartt, in the 
American Naturalist, July, 1871, and several Brazilian authors have treated of it. 


Our good host comes down to the wharf to see us off, and to 
assure us once more that his house is always ^^ds sitas ordens^' 
whenever we care to return to it. May he always find hearts 
as kindly as his own ! * 

We must travel all night yet, before we emerge from the 
Breves channels into the broad northern stream. But we 
reach it at last — the giant Amazons, the river of Orellana, 
and Acufia, and Martins — the river with the destinies of a 
continent in its future. Five miles broad its yellow waters 
sweep toward the sea ; east and west there are open horizons, 
where the lines of forest are lifted by the mirage and broken 
into clumps and single trees until they are lost in the sky. 
On either side there may be two or three other channels, for 
not a glimpse of northern or southern highland is seen over 
the dead level of the varzeas. No danger of running aground 
here. Along the sides our charts may mark twenty, thirty, 
forty fathoms ; but out in the middle it is always ^^Jia niidto 
fiindo; " in the strong current the bottom is unattainable by 
ordinary instruments. The snows of half the Andes are 
flowing here, the drainings of a region as large as the United 

The steamer passes from one side to another as we touch 
at the river-towns ; mere hamlets, specks in the wilderness. 
Most of them are on the terra firme, but hardly raised above 
the flood-plains. Frequently we stop to take in fuel at some 
fazenda, where the wood that is put on is counted slowly, 
stick by stick. After passing the mouth of the Xingu, we 
see the flat-topped hills on the northern side, like a line of 
mountains, all cut off at the same level. 

They are twenty miles away ; between them and the main 

* I am glad to acknowledge the extreme kindness of this gentleman — Dr. Lud- 
sero de Almeida Salazar. 


river there is a great belt of netted flood-plain — in this dis- 
trict, as on the northeastern part of Marajo, covered, for the 
most part, with grass-growth. Yet we do not see this ; from 
the river there is only the same succession of forest-lined 
varzeas, with banks cut so steeply that our steamer can keep 
close in shore ; sometimes we almost brush the foliage. In 
most places, if w^e land from the main river or a side channel, 
we find, not marshes, as at Breves, but comparatively high 
land, running along the shore. The great trees are festooned 
with vines, and thick-leaved branches reach out over the 
water ; but there is not much undergrowth, and we can easily 
walk inland. We find that, after a little space, the ground 
slopes gradually away from the river ; two or three hundred 
yards from the bank the belt of forest ceases, and we come 
out suddenly on a great stretch of meadow, or a lake, the 
farther shore of which is lost on the horizon. 

To explain these features, we must remember that the 
islands and flats have been formed by the river itself Every 
year, in February and March, the Amazons rises to a height 
of thirty feet or more above its ordinary level, and overflows 
the meadow-land in all directions. Now, in the river, the 
particles of mud and clay are held in suspension by the swift 
current ; but as the water flows over the meadows it becomes 
quiet, and the particles sink to the bottom. Naturally, the 
coarser detritus is deposited first, near the river, and at last 
it builds up a ridge, as w^e have seen. When fully formed, 
the top of the ridge, in some places, is just out of reach of 
the highest floods. The meadows, being lower, are flooded 
during several months. They are alternately soaked and 
baked ; hence the forest trees will not grow on them, but 
they flourish well on the banks, where their roots are only 
covered during three or four weeks oi each year. 


The raised borders are the farming-lands of the varzeas. 
Along the Middle Amazons most of the available portion is 
now private property. Corn, cotton, sugar-cane and to- 
bacco all grow well here ; mandioca, which on the highlands 
requires more than a year to mature its roots, yields rich 
harvests on the plains with six months of the dry season. 
But between the Rio Negro and the Xingii, the most im- 
portant lowland crop is cacao. It is true, the trees will grow 
quite as well, or better, on the terra firme ; but Brazilians 
prefer the varzeas for their plantations, because the ground 
is easily prepared and takes care of itself; besides, the or- 
chard arrives at maturity much sooner. We hardly notice 
these cacao plantations from the river, the dark green of the 
foliage is so like the forest ; and generally there are other 
trees near the shore. But for miles the banks are lined with 
them, mostly the orchards of small proprietors, who own a 
few hundred pes of cacao ; some of the estates, however, 
have twenty or thirty thousand trees. 

The high varzeas are healthful enough ; unlike the Breves 
tide-plains, malarial fevers are not at all common here. But 
life on the cacao-plantations has one great drawback. All 
the tigers and anacondas in Brazil can never compare to the 
terror of the mosquitoes ; not one or two serenaders, piping 
cannily about our ears, but swarms of them — blood-thirsty 
monsters, making straight at face and hands with a savage 
desire to suck our life out of us. At night the houses must 
be closed tightly, and even then the little torments come 
in through every chink, making life a burden to a sensitive 
man. And yet, in justice to the Amazonian mosquito, I 
must say that I have never found his bite half so virulent as 
that of his cousin in the Jersey swamps ; after a day in the 
forest, where one is constantly exposed to their attacks, all 


irritation is removed by a cold-water bath. Nor must one 
infer that these pests are everywhere ; they keep to the 
woods, only coming out at night ; at Para and Breves we 
saw very few of them, and in the thick forest of the high- 
lands, away from the channels, they are hardly noticed. 

Back from the river we can ride for miles over the great 
breezy meadows, only we must make long detours to avoid 
the lakes and swampy forests and clumps of shield-leaved 
arums. There are a thousand beautiful things to see on these 
campos ; bright yellow and white flowers dotting the surface, 
pretty warblers and finches, and whistling black japiis, little 
fishes in the pools, and brilliant dragon-flies entomologizing 
over the reeds ; drooping bushes with wonderfully delicate, 
feathery leaves all spread out gratefully to the sun ; but if 
you jar the branch roughly, they close and bend down in sad, 
mute remonstrance, the protest of their helplessness against 
our brute strength. I must needs be tender with the sen- 
sitive plants ; there must be a higher power than mine 
watching over them. For every night they fold their hands 
and bow their heads in silent prayer, and so sleep calmly 
under the gentle dews ; every morning they lift themselves, 
with silver tears of thanksgiving, to the bright sunshine and 
the soft east wind. 

Near the main channels the meadows are much broken by 
these bushes and swamps ; but far back, and sheltered in bays 
of the highland, they are as level and clean as a wheat-field, 
bright velvety green, rippling with the wind like a great lake. 
Everywhere the grass is dotted with cattle. Such places, in- 
deed, owe their beauty to the yearly fires with which the 
herdsmen cleanse their surface. They are the favorite pas- 
tures, and most of them have been absorbed into the es- 
tates of large proprietors. 



Climbing the heights of Monte Alegre, we look off over 
great stretches of the meadow-land, threaded by channels, 
and dotted with little quiet lakes. The eye strives in vain to 
unravel the intricacies of this vast net-work. The lakes are 
mere shallow depressions in the meadow-land ; some of them 
dry up entirely in September and October, or remain only 
as rows of pools and swampy flats ; many, even of the larger 
ones, are so shallow that in the dry season canoes are poled 
across them ; five miles from shore a man can stand on the 
bottom with head and shoulders above water, and one might 
wade across, but for the alligators and the fierce little cannibal 

The smaller lakes are innumerable ; in fact, there is every 
gradation in size, down to pools and puddles. Sometimes 

Victoria regia. 

our canoe-men can hardly push their way through the thick 
growth of aquatic plants ; or, where the waters are still, we 
hold our breath to see the eight-feet-broad leaves of the Vic- 
toria regia, and its superb white and rosy flowers.* Nearly 

* I have measured flowers which were eleven and one-half inches in diameter. 


all the lakes are connected with the rivers, often by very 
long and tortuous channels — forest-covered creeks, or pas- 
sages in the open meadow, or wider igarape's lined with soft 
plumy bamboos and graceful carand and javary palms. 
Where the banks are shelving, great flocks of herons gather 
to fish in the shallow water, flying up in snowy clouds before 
the canoe ; roseate spoonbills spread their wings like flashes 
of sunset; egrets and bitterns hide in the tall grass. I love 
best to pass through these channels in the early morning, 
when the palm-tops are sharply defined against the deep 
blue sky, and the bamboos look white in contrast to the 
shadows beneath them, and the rising sun intensifies the pic- 
ture with its wonderful richness of light and color. Then the 
wind blows freshly across the meadows, rippling the young 
grass ; parrots and macaws come flying over the lowland in 
pairs, screaming loudly; toucans call from the solitary trees, 
and small birds innumerable keep up a ringing concert. 
They are all so happy to see the day, so brimming over with 
the gladness of life ! 

Heaven forgive me for my ingratitude ! Even among the 
home friends I am forever panting to get back to my forests 
and streams. I am half minded to buy a wooden canoe and 
a fishing spear of the first Indian we meet, and to go sailing 
away, away, among the crooked channels and sunny lakes, 
until I lose myself in their intricacies. One could live a her- 
mit, and plant mandioca, and catch fish as the Indians do, 
and be at rest. Ah well ! I know that there are blood- 
thirsty mosquitoes there, and fevers in the swamps, and 
dreary solitudes everywhere. I know that I would die in a 
month of fatigue and exposure. I must needs content my- 
self, with the rest, watching the fishermen and half envying 

them in my heart. 



In the summer the Indians come by hundreds to the lakes 
and channels, to fish for the ^x^-dX pirarucily'^ and to prepare 
the flesh, just as codfish is prepared on the Newfoundland 
banks. They build little huts along the shores ; trading 
canoes come with their stock of cheap wares to barter for the 
fish, and a kind of aquatic community is formed, which breaks 
up with the January floods. 

Besides the pirarucu, the lakes swarm with smaller fishes 
innumerable. The Indians catch them with a line, or spear 

The Pirarucu Fisher. 

them with tridents ; in the small streams they are shot with 
arrows — an art which requires peculiar skill, since one must 
allow for the refraction of the water. Even the little brown 
urchins take lessons by hooking the \\Mw%ry piranJias, which 
will bite at anything, from a bit of salt meat to a bather's toe. 

* Sudis. 


Our northern trout-fishers are scandalized to see these boys 
thrashing the water with their poles to attract the piranhas. 

This is the dry season, the time of plenty. With the heavier 
rains of January the river rises rapidly ; by March it has 
overspread the lowlands like a sea, a vast sheet, two thousand 
miles long and thirty or forty in average width, with only 
lines of forest and floating grass marking the limits of lakes 
and channels ; canoes pass almost straight across, the men 
pushing with poles through the floating grass ; '* a voyage 
overland," Mrs. Agassiz called it. At the height of the 
flood-season, even the raised borders are submerged, ex- 
cept little spots where the planters build their houses. 

Many of the meadow-plants are in bloom at this time ; 
yellow, crimson, white, dotting the water like stars. Every- 
where, too, the floating grass swarms with animal life. There 
are the brown *' ramrod zYiic^^^vi'^,'' piassoccas* running across 
the lily-leaves ; their long toes spread over a large surface, so 
that they do not sink. Herons and egrets have retired to 
the main-land, but there are plenty of warblers and tanagers 
about the reeds ; great dragon-flies dart about, or sit watch- 
fully on the very tip of a twig ; the agrions, their slender 
cousins, cling to grass-stalks, and you may see them crawling 
down into the water to lay their eggs, their pretty wings 
glistening the while like silver. At the bases of the leaves 
there are beetles, Carabidce and Steni, which at the north live 
along muddy shores ; pale, slender locusts also, and katydids, 
well concealed by their colors. These lie still all day, but 
at night they are uproarious, singing treble to the bass of 
frogs and the tenor of crickets. Brilliant spiders spin webs 
for the unwary green flies. Whole colonies of the little red 

* Parrajacana. 


fire-ants are driven out of their nests ; they collect in balls on 
the tips of grass-stalks, and so live, uncomfortably, until the 
waters subside ; * they swarm over our canoe at times, and 
punish us savagely with their red-hot stings. The water, 
filtered through the grass, is very clear, and wholesome to 
drink. Down among the stalks we see the fish moving about : 
slender sarapos, acaris in bony armor, and numbers of bril- 
liantly colored Cyprinodonts. As the waters recede, many of 
these remain in pools about the meadows, and the Indians 
catch them by scores in nets or baskets. 

Above Obidos the flood-plain is occupied by swampy 
forest — ygCLpo the Indians call it — much like that about 
Breves ; but this, of course, is out of reach of the tides. 
Every year it is flooded ; then boats pass through everywhere 
between the tree-trunks. Mr. Wallace speaks of such a 

" On crossing the Rio Negro from Barra, we entered a tract of this 
description. Our canoe was forced under branches and among dense 
bushes, till we got into a part where the trees were loftier and a deep 
gloom prevailed. Here the lowest branches were level with the surface 
of the water, and many of them were putting forth flowers. As we pro- 
ceeded, we sometimes came to a grove of small palms, and among them 
was the maraja, bearing bunches of agreeable fruit, which, as we passed, 
the Indians cut off with their long knives. Sometimes the rustling of 
leaves overhead told us that monkeys were near, and we would soon, per- 
haps, discover them peeping down from among the thick foliage, and 
then bounding away as soon as we had caught a glimpse of them. Pres- 
ently we came out into the sunshine, in a little grassy lake filled with 
lilies and beautiful water-plants : little yellow bladder-worts {Utricula- 
7'ias), and the bright blue flowers, and curious leaves with swollen stalks, 
of the Po7itederias. Again in the gloom of the forest, among the lofty 
cylindrical trunks rising like columns out of the deep water ; now a splash- 

* Myrmica Saevissima. A similar habit is recorded of an African ant. 


ing of falling fruit around us would announce that birds were feeding over- 
head, and we would discover a flock of paroquets, or some bright blue 
chatterers, or the lovely pompadour, with its delicate white wings and 
claret-colored plumage ; now, with a w^hirr, a trogon would seize a fruit 
on the wing, or some clumsy toucan would make the branches shake as 
he alighted. 

" In the ygapo peculiar animals are found, attracted by the trees 
which grow only there. Many species of trogons are found only here ; 
others in the dry virgin forest. The umbrella chatterer is entirely con- 
fined to the ygap6, as is also the little bristle-tailed manakin. Some 
monkeys are found here only in the wet season, and whole tribes of 
Indians, such as the Purupurus and Muras, entirely inhabit it, building 
small, easily removable huts, on the sandy shores in the dry season, and 
on rafts in the wet ; spending a great part of their lives in canoes, sleep- 
ing suspended in rude hammocks from trees over the deep water, culti- 
vating no vegetables, but subsisting entirely on the fish, turtle, and cow- 
fish which they obtain from the river." * 

To recapitulate : We have found three great divisions 
of the river-plain — the tide-lowlands, the forest-lined varzea 
meadows, and the flooded woods of the Upper Amazons. 
Of these, the first is pretty well defined by its geographical 
position about the mouth of the river. The varzea meadows 
occupy all the rest of the Lower Amazons, and as far up at 
least as Obidos ; they are generally bordered with woods, as 
we have seen, and these woods are composed of a different 
set of trees from those of the tide-lowlands, or the Upper 
Amazons ygapos ; to this class, also, belong the ilhas de 
mato, isolated clumps of higher forest in the meadows ; and 
even large islands may be covered with a similar growth. 
The third division, that of ygapos, occupies nearly all of the 
Upper Amazons flood-plain ; but there are occasional strips 
of grass-land interspersed, and, vice versa, spots of ygapo 

* Amazon and Rio Negro, p. 176. 


occur in the varzea meadows below, where lakes have been 
filled in ; beyond this, the division is very well marked. The 
trees of the ygapo are in great part like those of the tide-low- 
lands, but each division has a few peculiar species. Of course, 
there are subdivisions without number, depending on slight 
differences of level, and the nearness to or distance from 
the river ; but we need not concern ourselves with these at 

The w^hole flora of the lowland is distinct from that of the 
terra firme. Only in swamps of the highland, and along 
streams, we find a few of the varzea trees, and there are rare 
exceptions of species that grow indifferently on all sorts of 

Comparing the varzea trees with those of the terra firme, 
we are struck at once with their general resemblance. The 
species are different, but the genera are commonly the same. 
The Indians recognized this long ago ; they classify trees, 
but distinguish them closely. Thus, your woodsman will 
tell of one taixi on the varzea, and another on the highland; 
there are varzea cedros,\ ingds.X and so on. Among palms 
the familiar varzea y^z^^^rj § can hardly be distinguished by a 
novice from the highland tiLcinnd ; \ and the low curiids\ of 
the dry forest are represented by the tall iiriiciiry * * of the 
raised borders. We might find a hundred more instances 
among trees, and not a few with smaller plants, and even 
animals ; thus, the varzea sloth is different from the terra- 
firme species, and one of the large jaguars belongs properly 
to the lowland. We have seen what Mr. Wallace says of the 

* E. g. , the Sapucaia^ Lecythis ollaria. t Cedrela, sp. % Inga, sp. var. 

§ Astrocaryum javari. || Astrocaryum tucuma. 

TI Attalea, sp. var. ** Attalea excelsa. 


I suppose that the lowland woods have been produced by 
a gradual modification of highland species — a fitting for the 
half-submerged life that they lead, just as the tropical sheep 
has lost his wool, and the dog has turned white in Greenland. 
How many thousand years have been occupied in this change 
we cannot tell ; a long time it must have been, for the differ- 
ence is strongly marked. 

A large proportion of the lowland animals are different 
from those of the terra firme ; a certain number are found 
indifferently in both regions, but in this case they generally 
show a marked preference for one or the other. This is pre- 
cisely what we would look for. Animals wander about ; not 
being confined to one region, they are not obliged to conform 
themselves to the physical condition of that region, as plants 
are ; but they frequent highland or lowland by preference, 
because the ground suits them, or their food is more abun- 
dant there. 

Still, the difference between the two faunas is very strongly 
marked. I remember my surprise when I first explored the 
varzeas and learned this difference. I had been living on 
the highlands of Santarem, for six months or more, col- 
lecting insects through the dry woods, so that I was pretty 
familiar with this side of tropical life. One day I hired an 
Indian boy to set me across the river in a canoe ; there were 
some low islands there, with meadows and scattered trees ; 
the place looked so unproductive for my work that I was 
about to content myself with a few shells and edible crabs 
from the river-banks ; but some curious beetles that I found 
tempted me over the meadows, and so, in the end, I filled 
my bottles with insects, and got some valuable information 
besides. If this day's collection had been made on the other 
side of the ocean, it could not have been more completely 


different from the set that I was accustomed to. And though 
I afterward found many species that were common to the 
high and low lands, I learned to separate the two sets very 

In our walks over the varzea plains we may possibly see 
a deer, or a tapir, or a red panther, but they are only visitors ; 
properly their home is on the terra firme. The spotted ja- 
guar * belongs here of right ; he is a fisherman as well as a 
hu-nter, and, though he often wanders on the highland, you 
never find him far from water. The Indians have a curious 
story about his fishing. The jaguar, they say, comes at 
night and crouches on a log or branch over the water ; he 
raps the surface with his tail, gently, and the tainbakis, or 
other fruit-eating fish, come to the sound, when he knocks 
them out with his paw. I do not take it upon myself to say 
that this story is true, but I have heard it from all sides, and 
from persons who aver that they have seen the fishing. f 

T\\^ prcgo monkey:]: also frequents the lowlands by pref- 
erence, as the planters know too well ; in the cacao-orchards 
it is an arrant thief, and, not content with eating what it 
wants, it breaks and scatters the fruit out of pure mischief. 
Other monkeys are found here at times — one or two seem 
to be pecuHar to the ygapos of the Upper Amazons. 

Beyond these, we meet with two mammalian animals that 
are entirely confined to the flood-plain. The first is a sloth, § 
the one that we have already spoken of, clearly related to the 

* Felis on(^a. We shall discuss the Felidcc more fully in another chapter. 

+ They say, also, that the jaguar eats off the alligator's tail, the reptile submit- 
ting to this mutilation as a mouse submits to a cat, from mere stupefaction. It is 
certain that curtailed alligators are found, and, improbable as the story seems, it 
may be true. See, also, Wallace : Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, p. 456 

X Cebus cirrhifer ? § Bradypus infuscatus. 


highland species, but quite distinct from it. We sometimes 
see the creatures on boughs of the cecropia-trees, hanging 
head downward, and lazily eating the leaves. The other 
animal is a remarkable one in many respects : capiitdra, the 
Indians call it, and its English name, if it has any, is a cor- 
ruption from this — capybara* It is a great, brown, stupid- 
looking animal, in shape much like a magnified prairie-dog. 
It is semi-aquatic ; the Indians hunt it, sometimes, but the 
flesh is little esteemed ; consequently the animal is very abun- 
dant, and ridiculously tame. Often we see them by twos 
and threes, wading and diving in the thick floating grass, or 
running about the shores, often feeding with the horses and 
cattle, who pay no attention to them. I have been nearly 
knocked over by a capybara which ran past me in a clump 
of high grass. 

To our list of varzea mammalia we might add the Amazo- 
nian otter, t which we often see swimming in the channels, or 
climbing the banks, the pretty brown coats always shining 
and smooth as if they were oiled. But this animal is properly 
aquatic, and lives indiflerently in the Amazons or in streams 
which run through high ground. On land, I think that it 
prefers rocky shores. 

Of the lowland birds, we shall find that a large proportion 
are different from terra-firme forms ; not only the wading and 
swimming species, such as we see about the channels, but a 
great many arboreal kinds also. So with reptiles and batra- 
chians : there are semi-aquatic snakes in the meadows, spe- 
cies that are never found in the dry woods ; at night we hear 
the lowland frogs piping in one chorus, but the highland 
toads have quite another one. We might even make a dis- 

• Hydrochaerus capybara. t Lutra Brasiliensis. 


tinction of the fishes : there are species that Hve on a muddy 
bottom, as in the varzea channels, and others that swim by 
rocky shores. 

Insects depend on the plants that they feed upon, or the 
ground they live on ; so a vast proportion of the lowland 
forms are distinct from those of the terra firme; and here, as 
among plants, we find many true " representative species," 
allied to the highland ones. The insects that are found on 
both high and low land are either those that feed on more 
than one kind of plant, or wandering, predaceous species, that 
live in trees, and so can keep out of reach of the floods. 
Most of these bright-colored leaping spiders, that we see on 
the leaves, are wandering forms, and they are cosmopolites ; 
but the web-building species are peculiar to varzea or terra 
firme. The handsome green and red dragon-flies over the 
meadows are true varzea forms ; their larvae live in water, 
and only in quiet pools, where the bottom is of mud ; on 
rapid highland streams we shall find other kinds. One 
pretty white moth we find in abundance on the grass ; its 
hairy caterpillars, instead of feeding on leaves, live in the 
water ; when the meadows are flooded, we can see them 
wriggling about among the stalks hke eels. 

There are three products of the lowland that have risen to 
commercial importance, and these three, at present, outrank 
ah others on the Amazons. Rubber is the largest export 
of Para ; next comes cacao ; and though hides stand fourth 
among the exports, the grazing industry is really third in im- 
portance. It will be well, then, for us to review these three. 

Twenty million pounds of rubber, valued at six million 
dollars, are annually exported from Para. But the business 
is altogether a ruinous one for the province, as Brazilians 


themselves are fully aware. The seringiLeiro, who gains two 
or three dollars from a single day's gathering, has enough, as 
life goes here, to keep him in idleness for a week ; and when 
his money is spent, he can draw again on his ever-ready 
bank. It is so with all the forest industries ; they encourage 
idleness, and draw workmen from agricultural employments, 
and retard civilization by keeping the Indian and half-breed 
population away from villages and schools, yet not from the 
worst side of white life. The traders have consciences as 
elastic as the rubber they buy. Generally they sell goods on 
credit, and when the poor, ignorant people come to pay in 
produce, they come to a tyrant, who will charge them twenty 
milreis where they owe ten ; who will force them to work for 
him, though he has no legal right to their services ; who will 
sell them inferior goods at high prices, and take their pro- 
duce at low ones. In this way one can see how even the 
small merchants manage to live. For instance, one of them 
buys a coarse German wood-knife, which may cost him 
seventy-five cents. He sells this as an American article, for 
two dollars ; takes his pay in rubber at sixty-five cents the 
kilogram, and sells the latter for seventy-five cents the kilo- 
gram, with a sure market ; total profit, over two hundred 
per cent., and that when the trade is honesto. They tell of 
one trader who carried to the river Tapajds a box of play- 
ing cards, which he was unable to sell, because the Indians 
did not know their use ; so this Christian gentleman picked 
out all the face-cards, and sold them as saints, at fifty cents 
each. So the story goes, and the man does not deny it ; 
but, in justice to human nature, I prefer to doubt its entire 

The credit system is ruining the whole industry. The 
mameluco gatherer, who is in debt to the patrdo, is only a 


link of the chain. The small traders commonly get their 
goods on credit, from proprietors in the river towns, to whom 
they must sell all their rubber; and these, in turn, are gov- 
erned by trade-princes in Para. It is not too much to say 
that the whole vast industry is under the control of ten or 
twelve men, who manipulate as they please, of course to 
their own advantage. The Para merchant may gain ten per 
cent, by the rubber directly, but a great deal more, indi- 
rectly, by his sales to the traders. 

The export duties are very heavy ; Brazil, having almost 
a monopoly of the trade, can tax it as she pleases. Rubber 
now pays twenty-three and one-half per cent, ad valorem^ 
on leaving Para ; and if it comes from the Upper Amazons, 
it must also pay thirteen per cent, on passing from one 
province to the other. 

The half-wild seringiieiros will go on, submitting to im- 
positions and dying in the swamps, until Brazilians learn 
that, by purchasing this land from the government and plant- 
ing it in rubber-trees, they can insure vastly larger profits, 
and do away with the evils of the present system. It is what 
must eventually be done. The rubber-gatherers, in their 
eagerness to secure large harvests, have already killed an 
immense number of trees about the Para estuary ; they have 
been obliged to penetrate farther and farther into the forest, 
to the Tocantins, Madeira, Purus, Rio Negro; and eventually 
even these regions must be exhausted, unless they are pro- 
tected in some way. The trees, properly planted and cared 
for, will yield well in fifteen years, and, of course, the expense 
of gathering would be vastly reduced in a compact plantation; 
half the labor of the rubber-collector consists in his long 
tramps through the swampy forest. At present, some of the 
swamps are owned, either nominally or really, by private in- 


dividuals, but their claims are not very well established ; on 
the upper rivers, by far the greater portion are still govern- 
ment property. There is, however, a kind of preemption of 
public land, by which any one can secure the sole tise of 
a rubber-swamp, of any extent that he can manage, and for 
any period, but without having an absolute proprietorship ; 
if he deserts the ground, another man can take it up without 
hinderance. Land can be purchased outright, at rates varying 
from thirty cents to seventy-five cents per acre, but there are 
extra charges for surveying. 

On the Madeira and Purus the business is conducted by 
large proprietors, who live, it is true, in princely style ; but 
it is a notorious fact that nearly all of them are deeply in 
debt, far beyond their power to pay. They preempt a tract 
of ground, bring forty or fifty Indian gatherers from Bolivia, 
under contract to work for a certain period, get them into 
debt after a few months, and so establish a kind of feudal 
proprietorship, which is under the ultimate and absolute con- 
trol of the grand seignior at Para. 

The present method of preparation from the milk is not 
very satisfactory ; the product is more or less impure from 
the smoke, and it must be cleaned in the manufactories. 
One Strauss, a German, invented an improved process of 
preparation, and sold his secret to the provincial govern- 
ment. The method consists simply in dropping the rubber 
milk into a solution of alum. I do not know what are the 
advantages or disadvantages of the Strauss system ; certainly 
it has never been carried out on a large scale, and the prov- 
ince never received any return for its outlay. There are 
other improved methods ; but the rubber-men are opposed 
to innovations, so the work goes on in the old rut. Very few 
Brazilians would have the patience to wait fifteen years for a 


rubber crop, and it is very hard for them to see the profit of 
an expensive improvement. 

They must submit to improvement, or the trade will slip 
out of their hands : there is a powerful rival in the field. Not 
long ago a large quantity of rubber-seeds were carried to 
England : planted there, in the public conservatories, a few 
of them produced healthy young plants, which were sent to 
India and transplanted along the lowlands of certain rivers ; 
and as India is already threatening Peru with the loss of her 
cinchona monopoly, so she may ere long rob Brazil of the 
rubber industry, unless immediate steps are taken to improve 
and protect it. 

The cacao industry is almost entirely confined to the 
lowland, as we have seen. In selecting his ground for an 
orchard, the planter must take care that it is not so low as 
to be subject to long floods ; in general, land where the great 
tLvucuiy palm grows may be used without fear. Such high 
borders are generally found only on one side of a channel — 
the concave shore ; hence, in passing along the river, we often 
see cacao orchards on one hand, while on the other there 
may be low, swampy forest, or open meadow. The cutting 
for a plantation is done at the end of the rainy season, and 
the logs are left to dry in the sun for two or three months, 
until they can be burned. Beyond this the ground under- 
goes very little preparation ; the seeds are placed, several 
together, in shallow holes, arranged in rows at pretty regular 
intervals of about forty feet ; this work is done at the end of 
the rainy season succeeding the preparation of ground. The 
rest is a mere bagatelle. Our planter keeps his young or- 
chard free from second growth, until the trees can protect the 
ground by their own shade, which will be in three or four 
years. By the fifth year they begin to bear pretty freely, 


and their tops have formed a thick roof, perfectly impervious 
to the sun. In our wanderings about the lowland we often 
pass through these cacoacs. They have a rich beauty of 
their own — the dense foliage, the twilight shade beneath, and 
the dark stems, four or five together, with the fruit growing, 
not among the leaves, but directly from the trunk and main 
branches, attached only by a short stem. The ground is 
quite clear, and free from underbrush, and in the summer, 
when the fruit is gathered, is for the most part dry. The 
harvest months are July and August, when the gatherers go 
every day to pick the ripe fruit from each tree and bring it in 
baskets to the house. There the oval, ribbed outer shell is 
cut open, and the seeds are washed from the white pulp ; 
then they are spread over mats, and placed on raised stagings 
to dry in the sun, care being taken to turn them at intervals. 
Most of the seed is exported in this form ; a little is roasted, 
pounded, and made into cakes with melted sugar, for the 
delicious chocolate of the country. Unfortunately, on the 
Amazons the sun is a very uncertain drying agent ; fre- 
quently there are heavy showers, and the sky is clouded for 
days together ; so it often happens that the imperfectly pre- 
pared seed gets musty and half rotten before it reaches the 
market. Much of the Para cacao, therefore, does not rate 
very high in the market. All this might be avoided by the 
introduction of a simple drying-machine, such as is used at 
Rio for coffee. 

Stopping at the fazcndas, we frequently get a refreshing 
drink, made from the white pulp which surrounds the cacao- 
seeds. Enterprising planters prepare from this pulp a deli- 
cious amber jelly, which, if it were placed in the market, 
would be much more popular than guava-jelly. Even the 
shells are valuable ; they are dried and burned, and from the 

112 BRAZIL. 

ash is prepared a very strong brown soap — a necessity to 
every Amazonian washerwoman, 

I confess that I am prejudiced in favor of cacao ; I cannot 
understand why the industry has been so neglected. It is 
said that the orchards of Colombia and Venezuela are being 
abandoned, because they are unprofitable. Very likely the 
land there has become too valuable ; the great objection to 
cacao-planting is, that it takes up so much ground ; but in 
the thinly-settled Amazons valley this is no obstacle. Land 
has hardly more than a nominal price : fine young orchards 
can be purchased at the rate of fifteen or twenty cents per 
tree, the ground going for nothing. And the great virtue of 
this industry is, that it requires only a few hands, and those 
during a season of the year when the ordinary forest occupa- 
tions do not draw them away. In a country where labor is so 
scarce, such an advantage is almost incalculable. By com- 
bining this with some other branch of agriculture, as sugar or 
cotton planting, the farmers could avoid loss of time during 
the other months. The small lowland proprietors often have 
herds of cattle on the meadows near their orchards. 

Cacao-planting is considered one of the most profitable 
branches of agriculture on the Amazons ; it is calculated that 
each laborer can gather and prepare four hundred dollars' 
worth of the seed, and that during two months of the year. 
But latterly the plantations have been neglected; many trees 
have been killed by long floods, and during some years the 
crops have failed almost entirely ; the rubber-trade has 
ruined this, as it has almost every productive industry. 

At present about seven million pounds of cacao are ex- 
ported every year ; nearly all of this goes to France ; a little 
to England ; last year none at all was sent to the United 
States. The market value in Para has steadily risen, from 



seven and one-half cents per pound in 1874 to twelve and 
one-half cents by present quotations."^ 

For my part, I cannot see why chocolate is not manu- 
factured in connection with large orchards. At present, 
cacao goes to France or England, and is there made into 
chocolate or "coco." Thence some of it is sent to the 
United States, reaching the American consumer after paying 
three or four duties, and the profits of a dozen merchants, be- 
sides those of the manufacturers. The product prepared from 

Drying Cacao. 

fresh seed, and packed in tin, would be much better in every 
respect than that which we get at home, and probably the 
export duty at Para would be no more than for the seed. 

As it is, we hardly know the taste of the drink, and we do 
not appreciate it at all. One who is accustomed to a gener- 
ous bowl of tJiick chocolate every day can excuse the enthu- 
siasm that called it Theobroma, *' Nectar of the gods.'' This 

* January, 1879. 

114 BRAZIL. 

is not a stimulant, like coffee and tea ; it is a mild, nourish- 
ing food, in a very condensed form. I have proved by my 
own experience that it may be used to advantage as a sub- 
stitute for meat ; a friend, who has often made long explora- 
tions in the forest, told me that he always carried chocolate, 
as the most compact and useful food that he could find. 

The grazing industry is gradually assuming very large 
proportions on the Middle Amazons, as it has heretofore on 
Marajo. It is true that the herds do not compare, and prob- 
ably never will, with those of La Plata; but there is an im- 
mense field for profit on these lowlands, if the present barbar- 
ous system can be superseded by a more civilized one. The 
cattle are a hardy, half-wild stock, well suited to the rough 
life they lead, but of small productive value. The only profit 
derived is from the meat and the hides ; owing to the over- 
supply, the meat is very cheap, retailing at from three to five 
cents per pound ; the hides are carelessly cured and often 
half spoiled. As for the milk, no value at all is set on that ; 
the herdsmen drink it sometimes, but the town-people hardly 
use it even in their coffee, and butter and cheese manufactures 
are unknown. It is true that the cows give very little, a quart 
or two at the utmost, and that only when they are running 
on the lowland pastures ; but with improved breeds and care- 
ful management I see no reason why the yield should not be 
equal to that of our northern herds. Excellent butter is made 
now by American residents ; this and cheese ought to be 
manufactured in large quantities. The great difficulty in the 
way of successful grazing is, that the lowland meadows must 
be abandoned during the floods ; then the cattle are driven 
away to the scanty pastures of the highland campos — sandy 
tracts, with scattered trees and short wiry grass. Even these 


are of limited extent ; numbers of small herds are confined to 
little islands of the raised border, and reduced to rations of 
the long canna-rana grass, which the herdsmen cut for them 
over the submerged land ; but they hardly ever get enough 
of this for their wants, and the poor beasts may be seen 
wading up to their necks to catch the floating leaves. Hun- 
dreds die of disease and famine ; when the rise of water is 
rapid, whole herds are drowned. 

Some system of winter-feeding ought to be devised. For 
instance, near large sugar-plantations, where cane is ground 
in the wet season, the tops might be utilized in this way ; or 
the richly nutritive canna-i'mia grass of the floating islands 
could be collected in steamboats, and sold to the herdsmen at 
a small price. As for hay, it probably could not be preserved 
in this humid climate; but various succulent roots grow almost 
spontaneously, and every northern herdsman knows their 
value for milch-cows. It might even be profitable to plant 
pastures on the high land. 

I wish some enterprising American grazer would turn his 
attention to these plains. He would have to introduce new 
breeds with caution ; probably it would be w^ell to cross them 
with the hardy native stock. There would be other difficul- 
ties, no doubt, but I am sure that they would disappear before 
American pluck and ingenuity. Surely, with canned butter 
selling at seventy-five cents a pound, and land worth hardly 
so much per acre, there are vast possibilities for profit here. 
For making butter on a large scale it might be necessary to 
import or prepare ice. Even as now carried on, the industry 
is very lucrative.* Some of the large proprietors own from 
ten to thirty thousand head of cattle, valued at eight or ten 

* Leather- tanning and shoe-making would be very profitable. Excellent tan- 
bark is obtained from various highland trees. 


dollars per head. They employ hundreds of herdsmen — • 
hardy fellows, in the saddle from morning till night, hunting 
up strays, keeping the herds in rich pasture, and branding 
them every year. We often see these vaqiieiros galloping 
over the campos on their wiry little gray horses, each with a 
bright red blanket rolled behind the rough wooden saddle, 
and a lasso-cord hanging in front ; their bare great-toes thrust 
into tiny stirrups, and their hair streaming in the wind. 



IT is bright morning when we pass from the yellow Ama- 
zons to the black waters of the Tapajos. There are 
white sand-beaches here, and clumps of graceful javary palms ; 
to th e south 
stretches a row 
of picturesque 
hills, flat- topped, 
most of them, 
and covered with 
forest. A pretty 
picture it is, with 
the framework of 
cloudless sky and 
dark, clear water. 
The air is fresh 
and cool as on a 
summer morning 
at home ; we long 
to ramble in the m 
shore woods and 
away to the hills. What may there not be there? The mighty 
current of the main river has driven the tributary close to 
the southern shore, where it forms only a narrow band. 

The Beach below Santarera 


Santarem lies just above, two or three miles within the 
mouth of the Tapajos. There are rows of neatly white- 
washed houses, one and two stories high ; the handsome 
municipal building stands by itself, below the main town, and 
at the other end the palm-thatched huts of the Aldeia are 
clustered about the shore. Nearly every Amazonian town is 
divided into cidade and aldeia, city and village ; the former 
is the modern town ; the latter the original Indian settlement 
from which it sprang. There is a little rocky hill by the 
shore, with the remains of a stone fort on it, but the walls 
are all overgrown with bushes, and not a gun is visible. 
Rows of canoes are drawn up along the shore, and a score 
of larger vessels are lying in the river ; the sand-beach is 
lively with washerwomen of all shades, with occasionally a 
well-dressed promenader, picking his way among the drying 
clothes. The church is large and showy, with two square 
towers, looking over a great grassy square, where is set 
the universal black cross. You might go far before finding 
another Brazilian city so clean and neat-looking as this one. 
With the mango-trees of Para, it would be as pretty as it 
is clean ; but here the streets are shadeless, and only the 
half-wild gardens give a touch of color to the glowing 

The steamboat anchors in front of the town, and presently 
a number of barges are pushed out for freight. A passing 
canoeman comes to our call, and bickers for some minutes 
before he will set us ashore. Arrived there, we seek the 
house of Sr. Caetano Correa, to whom we bear letters of 
introduction. Sr. Caetano is a well-to-do merchant of the 
place ; we find him sitting in front of his store, cool in linen 
coat and slippers. He bids us welcome very cordially, and 
invites us to remain with him until we find other quarters. 


These preliminaries arranged, coffee is brought out, and we 
converse pleasantly until breakfast time. 

Our host is a gentleman of the old BraziHan school ; when 
he places his house **at our orders" we maybe sure that 
we are welcome. The breakfast is as unceremonious as pos- 
sible, but curiously different from a meal at home. There 
are no ladies at the table ; only a few families in Santarem 
have adopted the new customs in this respect, and Sr. Cae- 
tano's is not one of them. Two or three barefooted negro 
servants stand behind our chairs, with very little to do. Sr. 
Caetano serves the meat, and then invites us to " help our- 
selves : JVao ha ceremonial Beyond that, there is no passing 
of plates, and no waiting between the courses. After a des- 
sert of fruits and wines, the inevitable toothpicks are passed 
around ; we light cigarettes, and sit smoking for ten minutes 
before leaving the table. This is very much what we shall 
find at all the better houses ; no especial preparation is made 
for transient guests, and we are welcome at the table of any 
acquaintance, at a half minute's notice. 

Sr. Caetano's store is one of some twenty in the town ; 
most of them are small affairs ; three or four only are large 
and well stocked, like this one. Several Para merchants have 
houses here. Much of the prosperity of Santarem depends 
on the Tapajos and the country along its banks. Some of 
the houses have branch establishments at Itaituba, one hun- 
dred and fifty miles up, and trading canoes are annually sent 
to the region beyond the falls. Much rubber comes back in 
these canoes ; drugs and cacao also, and now and then a 
feather dress from the Mundurucii Indians, or hideous em- 
balmed heads. Once, during our stay, Sr. Caetano receives a 
little box of gold dust from Cuiaba, far in the interior of Bra- 
zil : it has come all this distance by canoe, down the Tapajos, 


There is a curious mixture of quiet and bustle about the 
town. The stores are all neatly whitewashed or yellow- 
washed ; they have high green doors, occupying all the 
front, and here the proprietor sits, unless he is waiting on a 
customer. The wares are miscellaneous : light-flowered cali- 
coes, thread, pocket-knives, large wood-knives, household 
utensils., and so on. In every case a part of the counter is 
reserved tor rum and cheap wines, and tobacco ; here the 
Indian and mulatto customers are served : " tobacco for two 
vintens,'' or *' rum for one tostdo,''"^ the universal standards. 
Much of the business is of this small grade ; only when cus- 
tomers come in from the country, there is a general over- 
hauling of goods and selection of dresses, tools, or groceries, 
enough to last until the next voyage. 

The shopkeepers are sociable and gossipy : all the town 
news is passed over the counter long before it reaches the 
little weekly paper. The stores, of course, are common 
lounging-places ; there is always a chair at your disposal, 
and, in the morning, a cup of coffee with the proprietor; if 
you do not care to stop, he nods and waves his hand. The 
better class of men, like Sr. Caetano, are honest and reli- 
able ; many of the small shopkeepers, no doubt, will cheat 
when they can, often taking advantage of ignorant custom- 
ers, as our country storekeepers do at home. 

During the hot hours, from two till four, many of the 
stores are closed ; the master takes his siesta, and though 
your business be never so urgent, no one will venture to 
awaken him. Beware how you break in upon this afternoon 
nap of a Brazilian ; if you do so, you will be set down as ill- 
bred, and decidedly a bore. Rather, avoid attempting busi- 

* A vintem (plural, vintens^) is twenty reis, about one cent. The tostao is five vin- 


ness and calls at this hour ; they are as much out of place as 
a New York visit would be at seven o'clock in the morning. 

Dinner is at four, always precisely like breakfast in the 
courses, and followed by coffee or tea. We stroll out at sun- 
down, and make acquaintances readily ; people are sitting 
before their doors, as we have seen them in Para, only here 
there are no ladies in the groups. They smoke, play at 
draughts, oftenest of all talk politics ; and you find, after a 
little, that members of the same party fall together. Sr, A., 
liberal, does not fraternize with Sr. B., conservative, though 
the two may be outwardly polite in their greetings. We, 
who have no politics, are welcome anywhere ; there are many 
intelligent and educated men here, and traders who have 
spent half their lives on unheard-of rivers, among semi-savage 
Indian tribes ; from them we can pick up great stores of in- 
formation that will be valuable to us in the future. I like 
this Brazilian custom of out-door evening chats ; there is a 
freedom about it that encourages interchange of ideas and 
opinions. We sit in the cool twilight, while the evening 
breeze just stirs the water in front ; there are fishing lights 
on the other side, and one down the beach, where some In- 
dian family has camped for the night ; the very spirit of 
peace rests over the landscape ; you think you could remain 
all your life among these good people, away from the striving 
world, remembering only the quiet and beauty about you. 

The hour for ceremonious, black-coat calls is in the morn- 
ing, shortly after breakfast. The Senhor welcomes us politely 
at the door ; conducts us to one end of the room, where a 
settee is placed against the wall, and chairs are set in front of 
it, so as to form an exact square. Here we talk common- 
places and pass compliments, and, altogether, are quite as un- 
natural as we would be under like circumstances at home ; 

122 BRAZIL. 

on leaving, we are politely bowed to the door, and we go 
away wondering if this is the pleasant, sociable gentleman 
with whom we were chatting the evening before. Some- 
thing of this same ceremony is found in other social observ- 
ances. For instance, if we leave the town, even for a month, 
we are expected to make calls on all our acquaintances, para 
despedir: " for good-by." If His Excellency the Baron, or 
any other distinguished man, goes away, he gives a little 
dinner or lunch to his friends, and they all accompany him 
to the steamboat, embracing him, French fashion, at parting. 
But, beyond these small matters, society is remarkably free 
from stiffness. 

One day we receive printed invitations to an evening 
party — a dancing party, of course, and the c'/iU will be there. 
We find the large house full of guests, ladies and gentlemen 
handsomely dressed in the French fashion, the description 
of which is quite beyond our zoological pen. The musicians 
— very good ones in their way — are seated around a table in 
the hall ; they play simple tunes ; once we are astonished to 
hear a quadrille led off with *' Pop Goes the Weasel," hardly 
a note changed. For the rest, a party here is much what it is 
at the North. Brazilians are graceful dancers, but the ladies, 
between the sets, are anything but entertaining ; custom, or 
bashfulness, keeps them together at one end of the room, 
while the gentlemen may be strolling down the street to the 
little beer-shop, which is always open on such occasions. 
These parties are almost the only occasions on which ladies 
are permitted to mingle in social life. There are, indeed, 
exceptions with one or two of the better families, in which 
ladies come to the table with their husbands and brothers, 
and converse freely with guests ; and you will often see some 
young fellow stop at a window for a moment, to talk with 



some fair acquaintance. But, as a rule, the old Portuguese 
custom of seclusion is still dominant in all the Amazonian 
country towns ; the people think, and say, that women are 
unfit for freedom ; wiser men mourn the want of education 
for their daughters ; they urge, with much seeming truth, 
that the sex must be ^^ . ^, 

fitted for liberty be- 
fore it is freed. Bevond 
this restraint, I believe 
that women are univer- 
sally well treated ; but 
they must lead a dull 
life, shut out from the 
world in their dark 
rooms ; they look yel- 
low and unhealthy. If 
a young man is paying 
his addresses to a lady, 
he visits her at stated 
intervals, always in the 
presence of her mother 
or some female relative. 
In course of time he 
carries her through a dressy wedding at the church ; there 
is a great party in honor of the event, and thereafter she is 
more shut up from the world than ever. 

Christenings are celebrated with almost as much rejoicing 
as weddings, but there is less ceremony about them. Our 
friend, Dr. A., has a little daughter who is to be christened 
during our stay, and we are honored with an invitation to 
the breakfast, and the subsequent ceremony at the church. 
Some fifteen or twenty family friends make up the party ; we 


At the Window. 

124 BRAZIL. 

chat for an hour pleasantly, ladies and gentlemen together, 
for this is one of the upper class, modernized families. At 
the breakfast there is a great display of silver service and 
choice cookery, the like of which you will not often see at a 
northern dinner-party ; the health of the little Catholic-elect 
is proposed in a neat speech, and the father responds ; then 
His Reverence the Padre is toasted, and his Excellency the 
Baron, and healths are drunk between friends across the 
table; there is no excess, but much harmless merriment. 
After breakfast the children are brought in and duly admired ; 
we chat for an hour longer, or remain if we please until the 
christening at four o'clock ; the baby is received into the 
Church with the complicated Catholic ceremonies; and in the 
evening the house is thrown open to all friends. Throughout, 
the day's pleasure is marked by well-bred good-humor and 
an utter lack of restraint which is very charming. 

Holy Week brings its round of ceremonies, culminating 
on Good Friday, when there is a grand procession of the 
Body of Christ. It passes through the town in the early 
evening ; the approach is heralded by the noise of hideous 
wooden rattles in the street ; torches flare over red coats 
and gilded canopies. There are no rockets on this occa- 
sion, for it is a time of sadness and lamentation. The cross- 
bearer walks before, with a heavy black cross ; then a troop 
of red-coated boys pass, two by two; then child-angels, with 
spangled gauze dresses and pasteboard wings, some bearing 
little ladders, or hammers, or pincers, the instruments of tor- 
ture used at the Crucifixion. A lady follows, dressed all in 
white ; she sings, at the street-corners, hymns of mourning 
for the dying Lord. Now people kneel in the street as the 
dead Christ passes by — a coffin, with a wax or plaster image, 
not larger than an infant ; it is borne under a canopy, as is 


the life-size figure of the Virgin which follows. These have 
met in the church, with groans and weeping ; a sermon has 
been given to the kneeling congregation and emphasized by 
the sudden unrolling of cloths, whereon are portrayed the 
sufferings of Christ. The susceptible people are strangely 
moved ; negroes and mulattoes weep and tremble ; men of 
the better class stand about by the pillars and listen rev- 
erently. Even more impressive is the Easter Sunday cere- 
monial, when light bursts suddenly on the darkened church, 
and the organ peals forth grandly, and the priest and people 
mingle voices in songs of rejoicing for the Risen Lord. Now 
there are rockets in abundance, whizzing and crackling 
around the building ; bells are sounded, and all the city 
knows that darkness is ended and light has come. 

At one side of the church we notice a gilded image of 
Christ on the cross, with a tablet, on which is an inscription 
in gilt letters. Translated, it reads thus: 

" The Knight, Charles Fred. Phil. Von Martins, Member of the 
Royal Academy of Sciences of Munich, making, in 1 817-1820, by order 
of Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria, a Scientific Voyage to Brazil, 
was on the ist of Sept., 1819, saved by Divine Pity from the Fury of 
the Amazonian Waves, near the Village of Santarem. As a Monument 
of his Pious Gratitude to the All Powerful, he ordered this Crucifix to be 
erected in this Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceigao, in the Year 

It is said that Martius, who was overtaken by a danger- 
ous storm, made a vow to erect the cross if he were saved. 
The Christ is a life-size figure of iron, gilded, and was sent 
from Europe with the tablet ; the cross is of native itauba 

It is a strange congregation that this priest has to teach : 
susceptible negroes, carried away by the gaudy ceremonies, 

126 BRAZIL. 

and whites who care very little about them, and Indians 
who look on with stolid indifference ; devout old women, 
counting their beads on the stone floor, and pretty ones, 
taken up with their finery; hot-headed youngsters, who upset 
half the commandments every week, and merchants absorbed 
in their gains, and old men tottering on with childish vanity. 
Well, the priest is a good one, and so far the people have an 
example that is worth much more than the precepts and cere- 
monial. I believe that this vicar has been steadily working 
improvement in the town, ever since he came. We find him 
here and there, in rich houses and poor ones, encouraging 
right and gently chiding wrong — above all, leading a pure 
life, beyond reproach. He is learned: has studied in Lisbon 
and Paris, and so well that very little bigotry is left. He 
will meet us Protestants on equal terms, without lowering a 
whit his honest Catholicism. It is a pity there are so few 
like him ; but in nearly all the villages around, the churches 
are in charge of weak men, or utterly corrupt ones ; the 
predecessor of this Santarem priest was deposed for some 
flagrant sin. 

The Brazilian Sunday is a holiday, much as it is in 
France ; here at Santarem, as elsewhere, the stores are all 
open during the morning, and Sunday evening is the regular 
time for shows and displays of all sorts. Only in the after- 
noon the streets are very quiet, and the beach is deserted. 
We stroll down, past the old stone fort, to the municipal 
building ; part of this is occupied for a jail, where some fif- 
teen or twenty prisoners are gathered ; all the men in one 
room, without employment, except what they choose to take 
up themselves, and with very little restraint, inside of the 
barred windows. They come to the grating to offer baskets 
and trinkets for sale ; one has rings, made from tucuma nuts, 


and another is weaving sieves of strips from the leaf-stems of 
carana palms. Of the prisoners here, two or three are mur- 
derers, condemned to imprisonment for twenty years or for 
life ; capital punishment is admitted by law, but practically 
it is almost a dead letter now. The criminal and civil courts 
are held in another part of the building ; in smaller matters 
the tradesmen very often conduct their own cases, for nearly 
all of the better class are good rhetoricians and ready de- 
baters. There are, however, a number of smart lawyers in 
the town, and they generally have plenty to do. 

A place of this size and importance has a whole corps of 
civil officers. The Delegado de Policia answers very nearly 
to our justice of the peace ; he has charge, also, of the police 
force, and reports to the Chief of Police at Para ; two or 
three sub-delegados act as sheriffs or constables. The Jjiiz 
MiLiiicipal presides over what would be called a Common 
Pleas court in the United States ; the highest judicial officer 
in town is the Juiz de Direito. There is an orphans' court, 
or probate court, with a J2dz dos Orphdos, who has the con- 
trol of all minors whose parents or guardians have died. The 
laws are good, but they are often spoiled in the administra- 
tion, either through legal quibble or, sometimes, actual fraud. 
Frequently the petty spite and over-officiousness of the judges 
are a source of great annoyance, especially to foreigners. If 
an American dies here, and leaves no family, the Delegado de 
Policia takes charge of all his effects, although a known friend 
be travelling with him ; application for them must be made 
through the American consul — a very tedious process, 
though it is entirely just in theory. Another case which 
came under my notice was quite as unpleasant. An Ameri- 
can died at Santarem, leaving a little girl, who was cared for 
by other Americans for more than a year. The father, on 



his dying bed, had begged them to send the child to her 
friends in the United States ; but he left no property, and it 
was a long time before his wish could be complied with. As 
it happened, an American government steamer was engaged 
in surveying the river, and the captain, out of pure charity, 
offered to take the child home, free of cost. Everybody in 
town knew of the matter, and many praised the captain for 

J P'-J )^ ^^^ kindness ; no im- 

pediment whatever 
was placed in his way 
until he reached Para, 
when the American 
consul was summon- 
ed to give up ** a mi- 
nor who had been un- 
lawfully taken from 
the jurisdiction of the 
Orphans' Court at 
Santarem." The cap- 
tain, being a gentle- 
man, utterly refused to abandon his 
charge, and he was finally allowed to 
take the child, on his promise to deliver 
her safely to her relative. No doubt 
this was very good law ; if the jftcis dos 
Orphdos was not aware of the girl's departure, he had a 
legal right to make requisition for her through the authori- 
ties at Para, and in some cases, probably, this right would 
prevent injury to the minor. The Americans, through igno- 
rance, had neglected to take the proper steps in the outset; 
but the judge knew all the parties personally, and he should 
have had the discretion to let matters alone. It is bad enough 



to see a grown man drawn into this Brazilian legal machine ; 
but it is outrage with a little tender child.* 

If Santarem gives much employment to the legal gentle- 
men, the medical profession is hardly represented. There are 
two little apothecary shops, and one or two physicians, for 
the entire town of three thousand inhabitants. Intermittent 
fevers are never felt here ; severe colds are sometimes preva- 
lent during the wet season, and, when the river is lowest, the 
water is decidedly unwholesome ; as there are no wells, this 
is the only supply for drinking. Otherwise the place is a 
marvel of healthfulness ; for a wonder, there are no mosqui- 
toes, and we can sleep in peace with our windows open. 

The beach is a study ; from morning till night it is 
thronged with picturesque groups, of all colors and condi- 
tions. First, at sunrise, come the women, trooping down 
with water-jars on their heads to fill for the day's supply ; 
they chatter and gesticulate, and march back at length, walk- 
ing stiffly under their heavy burdens. Then the bathers ap- 
pear, one by one, and pass below the town to their own part 
of the beach : the clerks with towels on their arms ; the great 
men followed by little negro boys, with a chair, and a board 
for the feet, and sponge, soap, slippers, what not. We, with 
the rest, are tumbling about in the water by this time ; in all 
Amazonia you will hardly find such another river for bathing. 
As we go back to our coffee we see the washerwomen bring- 
ing down their baskets ; they tuck up their skirts neatly as 
they wade in ; clothes are beaten by slapping the w^ater with 
them, and the women pile them on their heads until they 
come ashore again. By noon the sands are covered with dry- 
ing linen, and the lines are flying all colors. Many of these 

* This case of little Allie Stroop attracted much attention at Para, It is well 

that the child escaped so easily. 



washerwomen are 
slaves; the better fam- 
ilies generally own a " 
few negroes, as the only servants they 
can get, except the very unreliable In- 
dian ones. Sometimes Indian children 
are " adopted," and brought up as ser- 
vants, but these wards are almost sure 
to leave their guardians as soon as they 
are of age ; often they run away long 
before that time. The 
slaves, it must be said, 
are very well treated, 
and they are often at- 
tached to their mas- 

Strange river-craft 
are coming and going before the city ; 
cattle-barges, and trading canoes, and fishing 
vessels, with not a few pretty pleasure-boats. 
Every day or two a steamboat anchors in 
the port, and rarely a schooner, or even an ^ 
ocean steamer, comes up from the sea. 

Some time, no doubt, Santarem will have Beach scenes at Santarer 


a large commerce direct with Europe and the United States. 
In the dry season, the trade-winds blow steadily up the river 
during a great part of every day ; a schooner can ascend 
against the current, even to Manaos. 

Most of the smaller canoes belong to fishermen from the 
Aldeia^ the old Indian village, which is left now as a suburb 
of the modern city. The streets in the main town are 
straight and sandy and glaring, but these thatched huts of 
the Aldeia are thrown helter-skelter, with winding paths 
among the bushes, and always a possible house beyond the 
last one that you see. We find a few wdiites, but more In- 
dians and mulattoes ; the most of them have houses and 
plantations in the country, but they spend their Sundays 
here, and holidays and Holy-week, of course. I always 
come to the Aldeia when I want to engage canoemen, or 
guides ; a sociable chat, or a cigarette from my pouch, will 
often secure me a ready workman, such as I could never find 
about the main city. 

I suppose that the Aldeia has hardly changed since the 
Jesuit missionaries gathered the Tapajos Indians to this spot. 
There is an old tradition to the effect that these Tapajoses, or 
Tapayds* were descendants of a tribe wdiich had emigrated 
from Peru or Venezuela and settled on this river. Be that as 
it may, it is certain that they formed one of the most power- 
ful tribes in the whole valley; "sixty thousand bows," wrote 
Heriarte, ''can be sent forth by these villages alone, and be- 
cause the number of Tapajos Indians is so great, they are 
feared by the other Indians and nations, and thus they have 

* Tapayo, singular ; Tapciyos^ plural. In this, as in many other names of Indian 
tribes, the Portuguese has formed a double plural, Tapayoses, or Tapajoses^ or again, 
Tapajozes. Another instance is seen in the tribal name Tupinambd, from which the 
Portuguese formed, first Tupifiambds, and then Tupinambazes. 

132 BRAZIL. 

made themselves sovereigns of this district." * Pedro Texeira 
came in 1626 to buy slaves of this powerful tribe; later, Bento 
Maciel and his crew enslaved the Tapajoses themselves, and 
the helpless savages fled to the forest before their civilized per- 
secutors, so that whole villages were depopulated. The In- 
dians must have been ill enough prepared to receive mission- 
aries; but in 1661 came Padre Joao Felippe Bittendorf, sent 
hither by the Superior, Antonio Vieira, '' because he had gifts 
and talents worthy to conquer and reduce the barbarians." 
The king, also, ordered that " a village should be established 
at the mouth of this river, and in it a college of the Company 
of Jesus, which should be as a seminary, wherein might be 
prepared the workers of the faith which was to be spread and 
planted in all the regions of the Amazons." t Whether the 
seminary was ever achieved, I know not. Priest Bittendorf 
induced some of the Tapajos Indians to acknowledge his con- 
trol, and these he gathered on the banks of the river, with 
others from the neighboring Uruerucus tribe; this mission was 
protected by Jesuit authority, and it throve apace. Bitten- 
dorf and his first successors lived in poverty, and said masses 
in thatched sheds until 1682, when a little tile-covered church 
was erected. About this time, also, the fort was built. 
There were rumors of French invasion from Guiana, and the 
king ordered that the Amazons should be fortified. One 
Francisco da Motta Falcao offered to build this, and three 
other forts, at his own cost, on condition that he should have 
command of one of them. He died before the work was 
completed, but his son carried out his wishes and was placed 
in command of the fortress, ** with the annual salary of eighty 
dollars." The office remained in this family for a long time. 

* Descripgam do Maranham, Pari, etc., p. 35. 
f Moraes: Historia da Companhia de Jesus. 


The mission village grew: in 1738 a part of it was re- 
moved to Alter do Chao, " because of the great size of the 
Tapajos mission, the land not being sufficient for planta- 
tions." In 1750 the population was about four hundred^ 
mostly Indians, but Portuguese traders began to come in, 
and plantations of cacao and coffee were started here and 
there. Up to this time the place was simply a mission settle- 
ment, " Aldeia dos Tapajos;" but in 1754 the Captain-Gen- 
eral, Mendonga Furtado, made it a village, and gave it its 
present title of Santarem ; the Jesuit missionaries were driven 
out, and regularly established priests took their place ; and 
gradually was built up the little city that we have seen. It 
had to pass through two heavy storms. In 1773 the Tapajos 
region was overrun by the warrior Munduruciis Indians ; 
every village was sacked or reduced, and at length the ture 
was sounded before Santarem itself. Citizens and soldiers 
gathered in the fort and met their assailants with a hot fire 
of musketry; the Munduruciis fought hard, the women bear- 
ing their husbands' arrows, and urging them on with their 
shouts ; but in the end they were driven away. Soon after 
they swore peace with the whites, and have ever since been 
their best friends. Santarem, at this day, would be exposed 
to attacks of the wild Indians, were it not for the faithful 
Mundurucus guards in their villages on the Tapajos. They 
never wavered, even in the second great storm — the time 
of the CabaiiaeSy in 1835. Santarem itself submitted to the 
rebels, but the Indians joined with loyal whites to drive them 
out. Through the city you will hear only good words of 
the Mundurucus, and if a tattooed chief visits the place, he 
is received with all hospitality, as befits his position. 

Since 1848 Santarem has been classed as a city ; it is the 
head of a comarca, or county, comprehending all the Tapa- 

134 BRAZIL. 

jos region and the country from Alenquer and Monte Ale- 
gre northward to the Guiana mountains.* Of course, the 
greater part of this region is still unbroken wilderness. But 
the situation of the place is superb ; if the Amazons valley 
is ever peopled, this must be one of its most important cities. 
The little fort, it is true, can never guard Amazonian com- 
merce, for the main channel of the great river is five miles 
away, and there are others beyond. So one is much inclined 
to laugh at the military wisdom that spent ten thousand dol- 
lars in rebuilding the structure, " to keep hostile vessels from 
ascending the river." But the commercial advantages of the 
place are almost unequalled in the river-valley. It is in the 
midst of a fertile country, and at the mouth of a great river, 
the highway to Matto Grosso ; it is a convenient port for all 
Amazonian vessels; the climate is delightful, and insect pests 
are almost unknown. This little mission village of 1661 will 
yet be a great city — one of the emporiums of the Amazons. 
Other places around have gone to decay; the rubber trade 
has drawn away their population, and none come to build it 
tip. But Santarem has grown steadily ; even now it is rec- 
ognized as the most important interior city of the province. 
Be sure it is in its nonage yet ; neither you nor I will see 
it full grown. 

* There are two electoral districts — Santarem and Monte Alegre — and five towns 
{municipios), viz.: Santarem, Monte Alegre, Alenquer, Villa Franca, and Itaituba, 



IF ten American travellers were asked to give their views 
of Brazil, we would hear ten different opinions, grading 
all the way from paradise to despair. And I suppose that 
Brazilians, travelling in the United States, get just as diverse 
impressions of the country and its people. 

When anybody asks me if Brazil is a good field for the 
American mechanic, farmer, merchant, I can only answer : 
That depends entirely upon the man. The country is what 
it is ; but you or I describe it as what it is not, because we 
see it only from our particular angle of vision ; we judge of it 
as it has treated us well or ill. The question resolves itself 
into this : What are the advantages and disadvantages of 
hfe in Brazil ? What men should come here, if they please, 
and what men should stay at home in any case ? In answer, 
we can only seek to know the experience of old American 
residents ; their success or want of success, and the reasons 
therefor. We can have no better field for these inquiries 
than the Lower Amazons. 

There is a great creaking of wheels and a confusion of 
driver-shouting. Down the Santarem street come four 
brown horses, dragging an immense American wagon ; a 
tall, coatless individual sits astride of one of the leaders. 

136 BRAZIL. 

and guides the cavalcade with much flourish and noise. 
He draws up in front ot Sr. Caetano's store, and sakites 
the merchant ; then ahghts and marches straight up to us, 
remarking : '* Wal ! Who are you ?" 

Of course we get acquainted at once, and Mr. Piatt * is a 
man worth knowing, too. He is one of some fifty Americans- 
who are established in the forest near by ; Piatt himself is 
a Tennessean ; the others are from Mississippi, Alabama,, 
and so on. In its origin the colony was much larger. Over 
two hundred persons came here from Mobile, in 1866, under 
the guidance of a certain Major Hastings. This was shortly 
after the great civil war, when the subject of Brazilian emi- 
gration was much agitated in our Southern States. People 
w4io had lost everything were willing enough to begin again 
on new soil ; the Brazilian government encouraged them to> 
come, and agents were paid so much per head for their im- 
portation. Naturally, these agents drew a very glowing pic- 
ture of Brazil, and said nothing at all about the difficulties 
that emigrants would have to meet. None of the colonies 
were very successful ; this one of Santarem was badly made 
up in the outset ; with a few good families there came a rab- 
ble of lazy vagabonds, offscourings of the army and vagrants 
of Mobile, who looked upon the affair as a grand adventure. 
Arrived at Santarem, they were received kindly enough, but 
after a little the good people became disgusted with their 
guests, who quarrelled incessantly and filled the town with 
drunken uproar. Government aid for the colony was with- 
drawn ; gradually the scum floated away, leaving the mem- 
ory of their worthlessness to injure the others. The few 
families that remained had to outlive public opinion, and a 

* In general, for obvious reasons, I have used fictitious names in this chapttr. 


hard time they had of it, with poverty on one side and ill- 
will on the other. But in time the Brazilians discovered that 
these were not vagabonds ; they learned to respect their in- 
dustry and perseverance ; and now, all through the Ama- 
zons, you will hear nothing but good words of the Santarem 

Farmer Piatt presses us to "come out for a few days."" 
So, when the wagon moves off presently, we are seated in 
the bottom of it, among sundry bales of dried fish and bas- 
kets of mandioca-meal — the week's provisions. The farmer 
cracks his whip sharply ; the sun is low already, and the 
wheels must wade through eight miles of sand to-night. 
Bare-legged boys come out to stare ; the wagon has not 
ceased to be a wonder, and truly it is a noteworthy spectacle, 
with the four horses and our tall farmer. The wagon, Mr. 
Piatt informs us, was sent from his old home in Tennessee, 
and it had to pass through many vicissitudes of custom-house 
and travel before it reached this place. Long ago, a law was 
passed by which agricultural implements could be intro- 
duced, free of duty; but practically, this law is a dead letter 
in almost every case, and even if it is allowed, the importer 
must be put to a vast amount of trouble. Mr. Piatt's wagon 
paid quite as much for duty as it cost in the outset ; every- 
body knows that this extortion was illegal, that the duty Avas- 
excessive in any case ; but poor Piatt has no redress, except 
by a litigation which he cannot afford. So he submits, and 
grumbles, as a thousand other good men are grumbling. 
And Brazil wonders why immigrants do not come. 

By the time we have toiled up one long slope and down 
another, darkness begins to fall. The land, thus far, is sandy 
campo; trees are scattered over the surface, not close enough 
for shade nor thickly leaved enough to be called luxuriant ; 

138 BRAZIL, 

they are low and gnarled ; bushes and grass cluster about the 
roots, but there is no continuous undergrowth. The road is 
merely a track, winding among the tree-clumps until it en- 
ters the forest, five miles from Santarem, 

It is too dark now to see how great the change is; only 
the trees rise high on either side, and the branches almost 
meet against the gray sky above. Piatt's shouts to his 
horses have a different sound, among the echoes; he stoops 
now and then, to avoid a branch. Here and there great vine- 
stems hang down from the darkness above ; in making the 
road they have been cut away near the ground, but the ends 
are still low enough to give the driver an occasional rap ; he 
swings them right and left into the bushes, with a great 
crash ; we in the wagon must look out for our hats. The 
darkness grows deeper, until the tree-trunks are lost in 
gloom and our driver is hardly visible. The forest seems to 
be higher ; we can just see a few glinting stars overhead, 
where the gaps are widest. Tree-frogs and crickets are 
chirping all around; a night-bird wails from the branches; 
once or twice we catch glimpses of moths or bats flitting 
above us. 

Presently we stop with a jerk : one of the wheels is caught 
in a big lliana. Francisco, Mr. Piatt's man, gets out of the 
Avagon and cuts away the obstruction with a wood-knife. 
Then we go on, now running against a tree, now sinking 
deep into a rut, getting through somehow with horse-muscle 
and man-muscle. We pass a clearing and a little thatched 
house, hardly visible in the darkness. Mr. Piatt and Fran- 
cisco are discussing the owner of this house, an Indian, who 
is a noted hunter in these parts. Half a dozen jaguar skins 
he has, and more he has sold ; there are scores of the animals 
on the hill beyond his house. Only a week ago he shot a 


-YGry large one, but not until he had lost his best dog by a 
blow from the creature's paw. F'rancisco goes on to tell 
other hunting stories, and adventures of his own in the 
woods ; the conversation takes a wonderful interest, with the 
darkness around and the moaning of the wind above. 

By and by we alight to stretch our legs, walking beyond 
the slow-going wagon ; we feel our way rather than see it, so 
dark the road is. There are white ant-hills along the sides — 
pale glows of phosphorescent light, like coals in the ashes.* 
They look ghostly in the darkness, and we think of the 
jaguar stories with a little tremor. But presently comes the 
cheery shout behind, and the creaking of the wheels; and 
beyond there is a great clearing and a house, whence the 
dogs are pealing a noisy welcome to our party. 

The farmer's wife welcomes us cordially ; the children 
are shy, for they do not often see strangers. Greetings over, 
we swing our hammocks under the thatch; the air is cool 
and pleasant — a little cold towards morning, so that we have 
need of our thick blankets. 

But what a glorious sight we have with the morning sun ! 
All around there are splendid masses of green : cacao-trees, 
and lime-trees, and great pale banana-plants, and coffee- 
bushes straying up into the woods ; beyond those, a bit of 
untouched forest, with a giant Brazil-nut tree towering over 
it, two hundred feet at least, and with never a branch for a 
hundred and twenty feet from the ground. Back of the 
house there is a steep hillside — a mass of rolling forest to the 
top. This is the edge of a table-land which extends over all 
the country to the south, and rises in bluffs along the Tapajds 
and below Santarem. The American families have located 

* The phosphorescence is in the hills themselves, not, so far as I know, in the 
insects ; and I believe that it is peculiar to the mounds of one or two forest species. 

140 BRAZIL. 

themselves along the base of this table-land, at half a dozen- 
different points. The streams give them water, and their 
plantations of sugar-cane are on the rich black land along the 
edge of the plateau. This plateau, by way of distinction, is 
called the niontanJia, but there is nothing mountainous in its 
character; it is simply a low table-land, about five hundred 
feet above the river — a spur, probably, of the higher region 
in Central Brazil. There are outlying hills on the campo, and 
the highland forest has extended over the lower ground, two- 
or three miles. With all the beauty of the site, Piatt evi- 
dently has a hard time of it; he looks careworn, and a little 
discouraged. The land is excellent, but the stream is too 
small to give him a good water-power, and without that he 
cannot manage a large cane-plantation. He complains of 
the low prices that he receives for his produce ; the Santarem 
traders take advantage of his helplessness, and he is often 
obliged to sell below the market value. 

All the Americans are cultivating sugar-cane; the juice 
is distilled into rum, which is sold at Santarem. Probably 
coffee or cacao might pay better, but our colonists came here 
without money, and they could not wait for slow-growing 
crops. Mr. Piatt tells how he and his family were housed, 
with the others, in a great thatched building ; how the colo- 
nists were supported for a while on government rations, 
until they could locate their plantations and get in their first 
crops ; how they had to struggle with utter poverty, work 
without tools, live as best they could until their fields were 
established. Piatt saved a little money and bought this 
ground of an old Indian woman ; it was only a small clearing, 
with a dozen fruit-trees. The family lived in a rough shed 
until they could build a thatched house, and Piatt himself had 
to bring provisions from Santarem, six miles, on his back^ 


It was a long time before he could cut a road, and longer 
before he had horses for his work. 

Consider the difficulties that this man had to meet. In 
the United States an emigrant without money will gener- 
ally find employment of some kind, until he can start a farm 
of his own. Moreover, when he is able, he can get tools, 
machinery, whatever he needs, close by home and at a low 
price. His crops meet with a ready sale ; railroads and 
steamboats bring the market to his door; his land increases 
in value constantly with the growing population. But these 
Santarem Americans were brought face to face with the 
ted forest ; they could not work for other men, except at 
such a price as the Indians get — fifty cents per day at most ; 
their market was unreliable ; they were forced to mortgage 
their crops in advance to obtain tools and provisions for 
their families, and hence they always sold at a disadvantage. 
Finally, they had no machinery for their work, beyond what 
they could make themselves. Piatt had to grind his cane with 
a rough wooden mill until he could procure an iron one from 
the United States, — at double the original cost, no doubt. 
He had to get his still on credit, and pay a high price for it ; 
horses, oxen, carts, casks, were all obtained by slow degrees, 
and at a great sacrifice. He has been his own carpenter, 
mason, machinist, everything; it was a long time before he 
could even hire an Indian to work for him. And now, after 
seven years of hard struggle, he finds himself with — what ? 
A plantation that he could not sell for one-fourth of its real 
value, simply because there are no buyers; a burden of debts 
that it will take him a long time to pay ; and himself with a 
broken-down body and a discouraged heart. 

This is the hard reality, which every penniless immigrant 
must find for himself in Brazil. It is not the fault of the 

142 BRAZIL. 

country ; the Amazons Valley is as rich as our western prai- 
ries are. But in the West a man works with other men ; be- 
sides the farmer-immigrant, there are blacksmiths, carpen- 
ters, machinists ; agriculture and manufactures go hand in 
hand ; division of labor pushes everything forward, as in a 
rapid river. On the Amazons a poor man has only himself 
to depend upon ; he is in a stagnant pool, a standstill country. 
Without money he will advance very slowly, and his ultimate 
success is altogether doubtful. 

"It is a vulgar error," says Mr. Wallace, " that in the tropics the 
luxuriance of the vegetation overpowers the efforts of man. Just the re- 
verse is the case ; nature and the climate are nowhere so favorable to 
the laborer." 

In so far he is right ; no doubt what follows was written 
conscientiously, and other men have thought as he did. 

" I fearlessly assert that here the primeval forest can be converted 
into rich pasture and meadow land, into cultivated fields, gardens, and 
orchards, containing every variety of produce, with half the labor, and, 
what is of more importance, in less than half the time that would be re- 
quired at home, even though there we had clear instead of forest ground 
to commence upon, . . . Whatever fruit-trees are planted will reach 
a large size in ti\e or six years, and many of them give fruit in two or 
three. Coffee and cacao both produce abundantly with the minimum 
of attention ; orange and other fruit-trees never have anything done to 
them. Pineapples, melons and watermelons are planted, and when ripe 
the fruit is gathered, there being no intermediate process whatever. In- 
dian-corn and rice are treated nearly in the same manner. Onions, 
beans, and many other vegetables thrive luxuriantly. The ground is 
never turned up and manure never applied ; if both were done it is 
probable that the labor would be richly repaid. Now, I unhesitatingly 
affirm, that two or three families, containing half a dozen working and 
industrious men and boys, and being able to bring a capital in goods of 
fifty pounds, might, in three years, be in possession of all I have men- 


tioned. Supposing them to get used to the mandioca and Indian-corn 
bread, they would, with the exception of clothing, have no one necessary 
or luxury to purchase ; they would be abundantly supplied with pork, 
beef, and mutton ; poultry, eggs, butter, milk, and cheese ; coffee and 
cacao, molasses and sugar, delicious fish, turtles and turtles' eggs ; and 
a good variety of game would furnish their table with a constant variety, 
while vegetables would not be wanting, and fruits, both cultivated and 
wild, in superfluous abundance and of a quality that none but the wealthy 
of our land can afford. And then, having provided for the body, what 
lovely gardens and shady walks might not be made ! How easy to con- 
struct a natural orchid-house, beneath a clump of forest-trees, and to 
collect the most beautiful species found in the neighborhood ; what ele- 
gant avenues of palms might be formed ! what lovely climbers abound, 
to train over arbors or up the sides of the house ! " 

Now, if Mr. Wallace had come here with his " two or three 
famihes, containing half a dozen working men and boys," the 
party would have found themselves in very much the same 
plight as Piatt and his family; and, at the end of five or six 
years, they would have been no better off than he is. Your 
immigrant cannot live as the Indians do, because he has not 
the woodcraft, the training from childhood to a wild life, of 
the brown workman. He can clear land, and plant fruit-trees 
and mandioca, but it will be hard work and a hard life ; he is 
not likely to think much of vine-covered bowers and palm ave- 
nues. I do not say that the dream cannot be realized, but it 
would require capital to start with, and years of labor. More- 
over, the immigrant, living in the woods, must be deprived of 
all social advantages. "The children have no schooling," 
complains Mrs. Piatt; "they can't even go to a Brazilian 
master, for we are too far from town." She talks of sending 
them to the States, but I fear it will be a long time before 
her husband can afford that. The family are Protestants, 
but they never hear a Protestant service now, unless, rarely, 

144 BRAZIL. 

when a missionary or travelling minister passes this way. 
Sometimes they visit with the Americans, but the planta- 
tions are far apart, and the roads are rough, and it is not 
often that they can make a holiday, unless it be of a Sunday. 

The only near neighbor is Piatt's partner, who lives close 
by. His house is built of hewn logs and has a good wooden 
floor ; probably twice as much labor was expended on it as 
would have sufficed to build a good frame house at the north. 
Only a few woods can be used for such work ; they had to 
be sought out far and wide in the forest, hewn with axe and 
adze into a square shape, and then dragged in with oxen. 
The planks for the floor were obtained from a saw-mill, 
belonging to another American ; before this saw-mill was 
erected, all the boards had to be hewn out by hand. The 
roof is of palm thatch, which can be laid on in a week or 
two. Tables, chairs, benches, are all of hewn boards, pre- 
pared, with immense labor, by one man. 

From the houses a steep road leads up the face of the 
blufl" to the cane-field above — a beautiful road, all arched over 
with forest-trees, and draped at the sides with a confusion of 
vines, of fifty species. From the bluff we can look off to the 
Amazonian flood-plains, and beyond, if the day is clear, to 
the blue highlands of Monte Alegre. Near by we see the 
sandy campo, sharply divided from the forest, and outlying 
hills cut off from the main bluff ; through all, there is not a 
sign of cultivation, except in the clearing below. The few 
Indian houses are buried in the woods, and their plantations 
are out of sight. 

The cane-field itself is a splendid sight ; the stalks ten 
feet high in many places, and as big as one's wrist. This is 
the rich terra preta, '' black land," the best on the Amazons. 
It is a fine, dark loam, a foot, and often two feet, thick. 


Strewn over it everywhere we find fragments of Indian pot- 
tery, so abundant in some places that they almost cover the 

Gradually we extend our excursions along the woodland 
paths ; we hunt for insects ; observe the ways of birds and 
quadrupeds ; daily increase our stock of forest lore. None 
of these paths extend very far back into the forest ; in fact, 
the American plantations are the farthest limits of civilization 
in this direction. Somewhere in the interior there are wild 
Indians, but no one here has ever seen them ; the tame In- 
dians are harmless enough — good, simple people, who stand 
very much in awe of the whites. They have thatched houses 
scattered along the streams, and little plantations of man- 
dioca in the forest ; dress carelessly, in the European fashion ; 
have adopted some of the European vices mildly, and never 
aspire to better their condition. 

After awhile we find our way to other American houses ; 
the nearest of these are at Diamantina, a little settlement, 
two or three miles beyond Piatt's house. Our first walk to 
this place is worth remembering, because it shows well the 
little every-day incidents that make up life here. 

It IS a pleasant, shady road at first, leading down a for- 
est-clad slope and into a valley, where the vegetation is thick 
and high. Beyond, there are old clearings — capoera, the 
Indians say — which have their own luxuriance of tall So- 
lanacece, and young trees, and flowering vines. Still far- 
ther on, the road descends again to a clear water-brook, 
with overhanging ferns and caladiums. About this brook 
there are numberless paths, leading to Indian houses here 
and there ; quite civilized and good-natured, the brown peo- 
ple are. We stop at one or two of the houses and chat with 

the inmates, who are very neat, and often good-looking. 

146 BRAZIL. 

The Indian laborers are almost the only help that the colo- 
nists can get ; they are willing enough, but very unreliable ; 
restraint is irksome to them ; as soon as they have a few 
milreis in their pockets, they go off on some hunting or 
fishing excursion, and leave their employer in the lurch. 
It is a mistake to suppose that they are constitutionally 
lazy ; they are rather childish, and improvident. An In- 
dian will often do more for good-will than for money. The 
Americans say that it is easier to get steady workmen now 
than it was when they first came here. The forest people 
are beginning to see the value of constant employment. 

The Indian houses are away from the path, in little, 
cleared spaces — never in the shade. But now we enter a 
larger open space, where the Americans have cleared away 
the second growth and planted the ground to grass. Mr. 
Brown and his sons are coming in from their work ; we are 
in time for the ten o'clock breakfast. So we are regaled 
with fish and mandioca-meal and corn-bread — farmers' fare 
as the Amazons country goes ; plenty of fruit after it, and 
bowls of a delicious drink made from the acid copo-assii 
fruit. Breakfast over, we chat with our host, and stroll out 
with him to visit the cane-field, which is well advanced ; but 
we hear the same story as with Piatt — increasing hard work 
for a bare subsistence, and no schools or society, or hope 
for the future. Brown wishes, with all his heart, that he were 
back in Tennessee. 

We stroll down this path and that, sometimes meeting 
groups of Indians — Tapttios^^ they say here — who pass us 
with a '* bons dias,'' and a smile. At length we are accosted 

* Indians of the great Tupi nation used the word tapuyd to designate the roving 
tribes of the interior. The name, modified in the Portuguese, has since been applied, 
by the whites, to all the semi-civilized Indians, including the Tupis themselves. 


by a loquacious fellow, who has clearly had more than his 
morning dram from the American stills. Now, your Indian 
drunk is always an Indian affectionate. To us, therefore, 
comes this smiling gentleman, and will enter into bonds of 
eternal friendship ; desires to know the use of our insect-nets ; 
and finally insists on guiding us to a swamp where the bichi- 
nos, — in Tapuio- Portuguese, httle beasts — are without num- 
ber, and most beautiful. We are not unwilling to see the 
swamp. As it happens, however, our friend never reaches it 
at all ; he gravitates to a still-house, and there his negotia- 
tions for cachaca-^xQ^-\N2\.^x promise to be interminable ; we 
leave him, and go on, moralizing. This man, we will sup- 
pose, has earned a milreis — fifty cents, more or less — work- 
ing for some American. He spends half of his money in a 
grand spree ; gets dead drunk, and sleeps, in dew or rain, all 
night out of doors. He has had no dinner, and he will get 
no breakfast ; but he will come for work to-morrow morning, 
and keep at it steadily all day, without appearing at all the 
worse for it. He may not repeat his spree for a month ; the 
Indians are sober generally ; some of them do not drink at 
all, or content themselves with a small glassful of rum. The 
few habitual drunkards among them are thoroughly despised 
by the rest. Young men get merry at a dance ox festa ; that 
is the affair of a night, which is sanctioned by custom, and 
does no harm. There is very little hard drinking among the 
whites, either, except with the lowest class of Portuguese 
emigrants. The negroes are worse. But on the whole, I 
believe that liquor has done much less harm here than it has 
at the north. As public sentiment goes, the Americans are 
no more blamed for rum-making than they would have been 
in the United States fifty years ago ; but most of them dis- 
like the business, and would give it up if they could. 

148 BRAZIL. 

The still-house belongs to a Carolinian, who came here 
after the time of the Hastings colony, and is doing better 
than the rest, because he had some money to start with. 
Diamantina has the advantage of an excellent water-power, 
and Mr. Ray is utilizing this by building a dam and a large 
wheel, by which his cane-mill will be run. The cane, cut on 
the bluff above, is brought down by a great chute — a trough 
six feet wide and probably five hundred feet long, every board 
of which was hewn out by hand. Wheel and dam and mill- 
house have all been achieved by the same slow, toilsome, 
hard work ; a pitiful waste of time and strength ; but there 
is no choice here. 

Ray's house is really very pretty ; to be sure, it is cov- 
ered entirely with palm-thatch ; but the wide hall through 
the middle looks cool and inviting ; there are orange-trees on 
either side, and a flower-garden in front, with a beautiful 
clear water- stream where Ray has built a bathing-house over 
the water. The whole looks so neat and tasteful that we half 
believe in Mr. Wallace's romantic dream after all. But there 
is the drunken Indian at the still, and Ray's tired face taking 
the color from the picture. Mrs. Ray speaks sadly of her 
Charleston home and the intellectual society which she left 
there. I fear that this family is hardly better satisfied than 
are the others. 

We dine with Mr. Ray, and at nightfall stroll back to seek 
our quarters at Piatt's house. But, either from the darkness 
or from our own heedlessness, we miss the way, and keep 
on until we reach the low meadows that stretch inland from 
the river. It happens that Mr. Piatt's negro man is here, 
catching horses with a lasso, and he good-naturedly invites 
us to ride back with him. The horses are half wild and 
wholly vicious ; but, being tired, we venture to mount them, 


though we have neither saddle, nor stirrup, nor yet a bridle, 
but only ropes tied around our horses' necksj wherewith we 
are to guide them. It is dark already in the meadow, and 
the forest road is as black as midnight. As we enter it, 
somebody's hat is knocked off — prelude to our griefs, for the 
hanging vine-stems are many, and the road is long. The 
hat is picked up, and our steeds are turned by main force, 
we tugging at the ropes around their necks. Now a branch 
catches us under the chin ; relieved from that, our heads are 
pounded with a big vine-stem, and our arms are twitched by 
briers. We enter into the spirit of the ride ; the horses are 
galloping, at all events, and we follow the negro's white hat 
as the cuirassiers followed Murat's plume. Our horses have 
backbones — two or three, possibly, on top of each other ; 
and then our feet are like lumps of lead ; we wonder why, 
in our boyish horsemanship, we were never troubled with 
our feet. We give up trying to guide our animals ; their 
natural instinct, or original sin, does at length carry us 
through to Piatt's house, but not until we are covered with 
perspiration and aching in every bone. There is much 
laughing over our mishaps ; the negro rolls up his eyes, and 
privately declares that he will take no more rides in our 
company ; small comfort to us, who supposed we were 
following his lead. But he says he was ashamed to stop when 
he saw us coming so fast. May his next adventure end in a 
broken skull ! 

In course of time we leave our pleasant quarters at 
Piatt's, and go to live with other American families at Pane- 
ma, five miles away. A motherly hostess we find in kind 
Mrs. May, and a good friend in her son, who interests him- 
self in our zoologizing, and proves to be a capital collector. 
For sleeping quarters we have a house of our own, a deserted 


one in the woods, a quarter of a mile away from the others. 
It is nervous work, sometimes, walking out to this place, of a 
dark night. 

There is a great gap in the roof; the season being pleas- 
ant, and we careless naturalists, it remains unmended, until 
one night a driving storm comes up ; then the rain sweeps 
on us like a cataract, and we are soaked through in a trice ; 
a second blast brings down our swing-shelf, with the precious 
collections, tumbling about our heads ; we try in vain to 
light a candle, and at length resign ourselves to shivering 
in the dark and drip until the storm ceases. As it turns 
out, the damage is not very great, but the lesson is a good 

Mr. May's establishment is small ; but there is another 
one near by, which is by far the most advanced in the colo- 
ny. The proprietor was a Methodist clergyman in Missis- 
sippi ; like many of his class, he had a ready capability for all 
kinds of work ; was, in fact, the very best man that could 
be chosen for a pioneer. Moreover, he had a little money 
to start with, and two stout boys to assist him in his work ; 
he was sensible enough to choose a most desirable location, 
where the land was rich and there was abundant water- 
power. With these advantages he has advanced steadily. 
At first, he was content to live in a log-house, and work with 
such machinery as he could get in the country ; when his 
plantation was well advanced, and he thoroughly understood 
his needs, he made a trip to the United States expressly for 
the purpose of bringing out machinery and tools. One of 
these importations was a saw-mill ; with this he sawed out 
boards and beams for a good frame house, and a great deal 
for sale besides; he has built mills for grinding corn, beating 
rice, cutting cane-tops for his cattle ; a blacksmith-shop, very 


well equipped ; a fine cane-mill, and evaporators for sugar. 
He has reason to look forward with hope to the future. 

This man and Mr. Ray, at Diamantina, are the only ones 
in the colony who have achieved anything like success. But 
these two were not a part of the Hastings company ; they 
came alone, chose their ground carefully and worked care- 
fully, with a fixed end in view ; and having capital in the 
outset, they were independent of the traders, and could get a 
good price for their produce. They would have succeeded 
anywhere ; better, probably, in the United States, than here. 
Both mourn the want of Protestant churches, and schools for 
their children ; they have learned that Brazilian custom- 
houses and government officials are sad drawbacks on their 

The Americans at Diamantina and Panema are generally 
discontented with their lot, and no wonder ; they began work 
without capital, or with very little, and they have been strug- 
gling all along for a bare existence. Their example shows, 
plainly enough I think, that the Amazons is not good pio- 
neering ground for a poor man. But the other question 
comes up : Is it a good field for labor and capital combined ; 
if a man comes here with money, can he make money, and 
live happily ? Mark, this question has nothing to do with the 
comparative merits of Brazil and the United States ; in nine 
cases out of ten, I believe, an American will be happier in 
his own country than he will in any other. But a man may 
be forced by his health, by business relations, custom, what 
not, to find a home in the tropics. He has money to start 
with, or a rich partner to support him ; can he do well on the 
Amazons ? 

Mr. R. J. Rhome is a practical American. In other words, 
a man who believes so thoroughly in his own theory that he 

152 BRAZIL. 

is willing to put it to the test. He had a theory that the 
Amazonian highlands were fitted for successful farming. So 
he came here with his family, took the managing partnership 
of a Brazilian plantation, twenty miles below Santarem, and 
put his theory into practice. At the end of twelve years, the 
estate has become the finest on the Amazons, and American 
enterprise has built up an American home. 

He stands on the bank, waving his broad-brimmed hat, 
and welcoming us as we land with a stout American grip. 

Taperinha Plantation, from the River. 

Friend of four years' standing, or stranger of to-day, it is all 
the same to this overflowing hospitality ; so we are seized 
and marched off to the house, where we get another greeting 
from kind Mrs. Rhome and the bright-eyed, healthy children. 
The house-servants scramble to prepare a room for us ; three 
or four negroes hurry down to the canoe for our luggage ; 
even the dog wags the whole hinder portion of his body in 
sympathetic welcome. 

The bath follows, of course ; a dip in such cold, limpid 
water as we have seldom seen in the tropics ; and Mr. Rhome 
has a bathing-house where you can swim in the cement-lined 
basin, and take a shower of a hundred gallons a minute. 
Then we sit down to a bountiful table, whereof every dish is 


the product of the plantation, or of the surrounding woods 
and streams ; even the wine, equal to most grape-wine, is 
made from native caju fruits, and our after-dinner cigarettes 
are of fragrant Taperinha tobacco. 

What next ? Our kind host is already planning a score 
of excursions — to the forest, the lakes, the highland streams, 
— anywhere for miles around. But there are a thousand 
things to interest us nearer home, on the plantation itself. 

The estate, joint property of Mr. Rhome and the Baron 
of Santarem, is measured, not by acres, but by square miles ; 
there are highland forests and lowland pastures, lakes stocked 
with fish and turtle, and streams with water enough to turn 
heavy mills. But when our host cam.e here, the plantation 
was run after the old, narrow, Portuguese style, saving a cent 
and losing a dollar ; much labor was wasted for want of 
proper superintendence, and the proportion of cultivated land 
was very small. Since then, improved machinery has been 
introduced ; the great cane-field has been widened, year after 
year, and that wonderful novelty, the plov/, has turned up 
rich black land that had not seen the light for centuries. It 
is a luxury to find what intelligent labor can do here. 

In the tile-covered mill-house, half a dozen stalwart ne- 
groes are employed in '* feeding " the great cane-mill, and 
carrying away the crushed refuse. Near Santarem we saw 
the Indian mill — a pair of squeaking wooden rollers, turned 
by four men, with an immense expenditure of breath and 
muscle. Certain Brazilian plantations have larger and more 
elaborate wooden mills, turned by horse-power, and a few 
boast of iron ones, made in the southern provinces. But Mr. 
Rhome assures us that his American mill has effected a sav- 
ing of at least twenty-five per cent, over the Pernambuco 
machine that was formerly used here ; and of course, the 



daily grinding can be greatly increased with the capacity of 
the rollers.* As on the other American plantations, most of 
the cane-juice is distilled into rum, which commands a ready 
sale along the river. Mr. Rhome has introduced improved 
sugar-evaporators, and he believes that sugar-making will 
prove very profitable. 

The Cane-miHs — Old and New, 

Besides the cane-machine, there is a saw-mill, one of four 
or five on the Amazons ; for the native carpenters are still 
content to saw their boards laboriously by hand, or hew them 
out with an adze. From the blocks and chips lying around, 
our host picks out a dozen beautiful woods — timbers that 
would be a fortune to our cabinet-makers. There is jaca- 
randd, or true rosewood, and iron-like vioirapichima^ and rich 

* French sugar-machinery is popular near Para, and in the Southern Provinces, 
where American mills are also used. 


brown /^V d'arco ; most elegant of all, perhaps, the moiracoa- 
tidra^ striped with black and yellow ; all these, and fifty others, 
will take a polish like glass, and some of them are so tough 
and durable that they are employed to advantage in the place 
of brass and iron. The very posts on which the mill-roof 
is supported are fine cabinet timbers, and the machinery is 
mounted with woods of wonderfully rich color and grain. 

The Taperinha mills are run by a turbine-wheel, a ma- 
chine which is a standing wonder to all the country-people. 
As for the artificial canal which furnishes the water-power, 
that was made long ago, by a former proprietor ; the banks 
have been softened down and padded with greenery for years, 
until they rival a woodland stream in their richness. Here 
the drooping vines are reflected, and round-leaved water- 
plants float on the surface, and the wizard sun comes down 
through the overhanging branches, with those matchless 
tricks of light and shade that are an artist's joy and despair. 

If we follow up the canal, we reach the thick forest ; and 
just within there is a magnificent spring, or rather lake, from 
which the water flows. I always bless the good sense that 
has left this place untouched by axe or wood-knife. It is so 
secluded here that the forest animals come to drink ; so still 
that the crack of a broken twig drops back in echoes from 
the wooded hill-side. A hundred feet above, the palm-leaf- 
lets tremble with a breath of wind; but the water below is 
wonderfully smooth : a leaf, circling down to the surface, 
sends tiny ripples to the very brim. Far below, the scene is 
reflected as no artist could paint it, as no pen can describe 
it ; airy lightness of assai palms, fret-work of tree-ferns, the 
superb towering forest, the glory of a thousand mornings 
thrown over all. Even these tiny islets have been touched 
and retouched with loving fingers until the impossible is 



realized in their fairy groves, and the palms bend over with 
quivering j'oy, to catch a glimpse of their beauty. 

Yet even in this charmed retreat we are warned of the 
evil side. For thousands of mosquitoes come charging up 
from the swamps, and march seven times around us, and 

sound their 
horns, and 
take us by 
storm, and 
slay and 
spare not. It 
is hard to ap- 
preciate even 
such scenery, 
when it in- 
volves a kind 
of St. Vitus's 
dance on the 
part of the 
spectator : 
when the 
winged free- 
booters go 
flying slowly 

off from your body, just able to carry the pint or so of blood 
with which their stomachs are distended. If the mosquito were 
only susceptible to moral suasion ! But he is as heartless as 
the New York small boy ; he laughs at your torments, and 
makes merry with your woe, and dances diabolically on his 
hind legs to see you slapping yourself, and grins when you 
gnash your teeth. And then, when you are routed, he 
gathers with his comrades on a palm-leaf, and lifts up his 

Picking Tobacco-leaves. 



voice in songs of mirth and gladness, and sleeps with a 
peace that passeth all understanding. 

But at Taperinha, the mosquitoes keep to the woods, 
only coming out at night, when doors and windows are se- 
curely barred against them ; so we can converse sociably of 
an evening, and sleep in our cotton hammocks undisturbed. 

There are plenty of interesting things to see about the 
house. Fifteen or twenty men and women are employed 
here in preparing to- 
bacco by the Ama- 
zonianprocess, which 
is as different as pos- 
sible from ours. The 
leaves are picked 
from the stalks one 
by one, as they are 
large enough; slight- 
ly dried for a day or 
two, under shelter, 
and brought to the 
house in great bas- 
kets. Here the mid- 
rib is removed by 
boys and women, 
and the leaves — two, 
four, or eight pounds 
together — are spread 
out in layers, one 
over the other, rolled 
together, and bound with strips of bark. Next, the roll is 
Avound tightly with heavy cord, as thread is wound on a spool; 
the strongest workmen are chosen for this part of the pro- 

Prepanng Tobacco. — 1. Splitting Jacitara. 2. Stemming. 
3. Spreading the Leaves. 4. Rolling. 

158 BRAZIL. 

cess, and one of them can wind no more than fifteen or six- 
teen molhos in a day, twisting the roll with his hands, while 
the cord, thrown about a post, is held tightly with the foot. 
In this manner the tobacco is very strongly compressed. 
The roll, after winding, is left for several days, until it will 
retain its form ; then the cord is removed, and long strips 
oi jacitdra — the split stem of a climbing palm* — are wound 
on in its place. The tobacco goes to the market in this 
condition, but it is not considered good until it has passed 
through a fermenting stage, which is only completed at the 
end of five or six months. Then the roll is hard and black ; 
people shave it off as they want it for pipes and cigarettes ; 
the Indians make large cigars with wrappers oitauari^ bark, 
but they are generally satisfied with a few whiffs, and the 
cigars are stuck behind their ears, to get them out of the 
way until they are wanted again. 

Roll tobacco brings from one dollar to one dollar and a 
half per pound ; but the profit is limited, because no means 
have been devised for shortening the process of manufacture 
and doing away with the heavy manual labor involved in it. 
And in this, as in everything else, Brazilians object to any 
other method of curing the leaves, because they are wedded 
to the old form. 

Even the commonest labor here gets a touch of warm 
tropical color and motion. A dozen or more women, prepar- 
ing tobacco on the piazza, form a group the like of which 
would be utterly impossible at the north ; and yet I could 
no more analyze the scene than I can describe one of the 
cocoanut-palms outside ; I see here only a number of de- 
cidedly ugly faces and brown or black arms, with not over- 

* Desmoncus, sp. var. t Couratari gujanensis, etc. 



clean sacks and skirts ; and the palm is only a crooked gray 
stem, and a mass of scraggy leaves ; yet both the pictures 
are superb beyond language. I cannot even say why they 
are tropical ; for the women might be in an oyster-shop at 
Baltimore, and the palms would grow in our green-houses ; 

but they would not be the 
same. Show me a lake or 
stream ; fifty yards away 
I will tell you if the water 
be warm or cold ; but I 
cannot say why I know it. 

The Plantation House, Taperinha. 

I can only describe these scenes by telling of my own in- 
ability to draw the picture. Look at that great negro, recall- 
ing the Discobolus with his brawny arms, as he twists the 
tobacco-roll ; but the Discobolus is only still, white marble ; 
this man is living flesh and blood, with a dash of equatorial 
glow thrown into his dark skin. Look at that lace-maker. 



Was ever 2. genre painting made to equal it? Yet the girl is 
plain enough, and her actions are simple. Our host, even, is 
a Brazilian-American — not by language, nor manners, nor 
dress, but by an indescribable tout ensemble that would dis- 
appear in a two-weeks' voyage. I think the most familiar 
thing about the house is the imported cat ; but then, cats 
are tropical everywhere. 

One evening, Mr. Rhome arranges a rustic dance among 
the people. It begins in the orthodox Amazonian manner, 

with a singing 
in the little chap- 
el, to which wor- 
shippers are 
called by the 
beating of a 

Then, when the 
concluding Pai- 
Nosso is sung, 
and the saint's 
girdle is kissed, 
the leader turns master of ceremonies, and such nondescript 
dances follow as could only originate in the fertile brain of 
a negro. There is an indescribable mingling of weird and 
comic in the scene : the dark faces and arms, set off by 
white dresses ; the octogenarian negro, striking his tambou- 
rine with a trembling hand ; the half-naked babies, tumbling 
about under the feet of the dancers ; the dim, flaring lamps, 
half lighting, half obscuring the moving figures. We sit 
and watch them until midnight, and then go away as one 





goes from a theatre, dropping out of dream-life into the 
dark street. 

You call me an enthusiast. Well, but a Stoic would 
turn enthusiast here. Follow the road that leads up to the 
great cane-field ; there were banks at the side once ; but 
they are covered now with such a glorious mass of vines that 
Nature seems to have outdone herself in decorating — what ? 
A mere clay-heap — nothing more. And if Nature can grow 
enthusiastic over a clay-bank, surely our own enthusiasm 
over her masterpieces may be pardoned. 

Looking down from the Cane-field, Taperinha. 

The hill-side is all aglow. I am afraid, after all, that our 

frequent stops are less to get up panegyrics on Nature than 

to fan ourselves with our broad-brimmed hats. But on top 

the breeze is fresh and cool ; a breath of the trade-wind 

coming up the valley from the Atlantic. We are on the 

edge of the southern plateau ; the ground about us is a dead 

level, sinking suddenly to another dead level, five hundred 

feet beneath. We can look across the flood-plains, thirty 

l62 BRAZIL. 

miles or more, to the blue hills of Monte Alegre and Erere ; 
down below us the River Uaiaia* winds like a ribbon through 
the green meadows ; there are a few lakes in sight, but noth- 
ing like the spattering of them that we have seen in other 
places. In their stead we only notice the lines of swampy 
forest, and strips of arums, and clumps of bushes, all running 
parallel to the channel ; seams left by the Amazons in sewing 
this patch-work together. 

Back of us, the great cane-field stretches half a mile or 
more in every direction, fresh, green, waving, — the prettiest 
sight a planter's eyes could find. The cane is cut by hand, 
and brought to the brow of the hill on ox-carts ; there it is 
thrown into a long chute, which deposits it cleverly in the 
mill-house. A pair of unlucky oxen managed to get into 
this chute one day, and the poor things were tossed down in 
half a minute, mangled and killed of course. 

Every-day life at Taperinha gets its dash of the forest. 
**By the way," says Mr. Rhome, "have you ever seen a 
tapir? " And he is reminded that one was killed last night ; 
we are to have a bit of its meat for breakfast. Two men 
have slung the carcass to a pole, and they find it a heavy 
load for their broad shoulders ; but they do not attract much 
attention, unless from our own unaccustomed eyes. The 
hunters tell us how these animals are found in the dry forest, 
but come down to the pools to wallow and drink at night; 
how they eat fruits and leaves, and can be hunted without 
danger because of their timidity. If the country were not 
the vast desert that it is, the tapirs would soon be extermi- 
nated, for their flesh is excellent, like tender young beef. 

The Indians bring deer, sometimes, and wild hogs, and 

* Pronounce it Wa-ya-ya. 


cotias, and pacas ; Mr. Rhome shows us the skins of half a 
dozen jaguars and pumas which have been shot about the 
estate. One might hastily infer that the forest is crowded 
with game, just as it used to be represented in the geography 
pictures ; but in point of fact the hunters often search for 
hours, without seeing so much as a monkey or a squirrel. 

The provision houses are the lowland lakes and channels. 
We can go out any evening with the fishermen, who supply 
not only the proprietor's table, but the people of the estate. 
Motherly Mrs. Rhome packs away a great basket of pro- 
visions for us, and we take care to go with thick coats, for 
the night air is cool. Thus fortified, we seat ourselves with 
our host in the middle of a wooden canoe, among heaps of 
carana fagots,* which are to be used for torches. 

The river is still and dark ; we see the stars reflected in 
it, and flickering with the current until we can hardly tell 
them from the dancing fire-fiies above. Clumps of forest 
stand out vaguely over the meadows; in the shadow you 
cannot tell where water ends and land begins. The men 
paddle swiftly but silently ; we can hear fish leaping from 
the water, night-birds complaining from the solitary trees, 
frogs and crickets in the marshes, a stray alligator, maybe, 
rippling the surface as he disappears beneath it. And the 
imagination looks into the depths and sees strange forms, 
undefined beings, rising slowly from the shadows, waving 
and beckoning, and sinking back into the water, and lifting 
themselves again to gigantic heights. O Night and Soli- 
tude ! Ye are the peopled, the full of life ! 

Our fisherman lights his torch and throws a ruddy glow 
over the water. Now our phantoms hide among the reeds. 

* The leaf-stalks of a lowland palm, Mauritia carana. 

1 64 


and peep out from behind the tree-trunks, and move their 
wings overhead as they flit past us : childish monsters that 
fly the Hght and yet return to it ; gigantic human moths ; 
vapory bats and owls. 

Flap ! The man in the bow has speared a fish in the 
shallows : waving the torch with his left hand, while he uses 
the trident with his right. Flap, flop ! A big carauana is 
squirming about in the bottom of the canoe ; the ghosts start 
in dismay, and fly silently into the darkness. And the torch 

Fishing by Torchlight. 

flares and leaps, and sends great rockets after them, and 
flickers down to a coal, and flames up angrily to grasp their 
returning forms. Flop ! There is another fish — and another 
— a harvest of them ; the torch-holder cannot spear them fast 
enough ; and ever, as he raises his arm, a shadow springs 
away behind his half-naked body, and dives under the ca- 
noe, and dances up on the other side, and disappears into the 


unknown, and brings back a thousand more to the harmless 
warfare. We paddle slowly about among the grass-clumps, 
sometimes starthng a bird on an overhanging- branch ; once 
the poor bewildered thing comes within reach of a boatman, 
who catches it in his hand to carry home to the children ; 
and the ghosts and witches throw themselves aloft Avith mad 
joy, and sink to despair in the inky waters, rustling the 
leaves above, and vanishing into nowhere, and forming them- 
selves again out of nothing, until the torch goes out and 
leaves them masters of the field ; and we go home to sleep 
into the bright morning and the unpeopled reality. 

The realit}^ is better, though. The orange-trees are drink- 
ing in sunshine ; the palm-leaves wave and nod, and toss the 
light about with their delicate fingers, and make kaleidoscope 
patterns for their own adornment. No, no ! The day, too, 
is full of people — my people — real bodies and hearts, making 
up this great, quivering still-life, with its wonderful unity, its 
infinite variety. People talk about palm-trees, as though 
they were all one. There are thirty kinds of palms around 
Taperinha, from the four-foot-high inarajd-i*' to the towering 
inajd,^ and every kind has Its own superb majesty, or delicate 
grace, or mild, tender beauty. Now I am a lover of palms. 
If anybody else insists that they are like ** feather- dusters 
struck by lightning," then I wish them joy of their opinion. 
But really, there is as much difference between the described 
palm and the real one, as there Is between a feather-duster 
and the bird that wore the feathers. 

Nature forms wonderful combinations with palms. We 
have seen them about the Breves channels, where the forest 
is resplendent Avith their regal processions. But along the 

•" Bactris, species : there are many. t Maximiliana regia. 

1 66 BRAZIL. 

highlands are fairy palaces, where their beauty is more quiet, 
perhaps, but so warm and tender that we forget all about 
their princely lineage, and grow familiar with them, and form 
special friendships, just as we would with beeches, and oaks, 
and elms. 

Many kinds gather about the swift-flowing streams, for 
they love to have their roots bathed always in the cool water, 
while their leaves reach up toward the sunshine. There is 
such a stream near Taperinha — the Igarape-assu — and I think 
I never appreciated the possibilities of palm scenery until I 
went there. 

The mouth of the Igarape is lost in floating grass, through 
which the canoe must be pushed for half a mile or more. By 
and by we enter a narrow stream, bordered on either side 
by thickets of fan-leaved carand* palms, and pretty iJiai'a- 
jds ; ^ these two grow only on very low, wet land. 

It is rarely beautiful, even here ; but farther up, the swift 
stream is all closed in and arched over with trees, and there 
the assais\ grow in thousands; slender stems throwing them- 
selves fifty or sixty feet into the air, and leaves all alive with 
that tremulous motion that is seen with every palm, but never 
so perfectly as in the assai. The banks, too, are covered 
with broad-leaved plants, and there are great philodendrons 
on the trees, and vines trailing from the branches ; but all 
this tropical splendor is so mellowed and softened down, with 
touches of sunshine and curtains of shadow, that it comes 
back to the heart like strangely familiar music, heard now 
for the first time, but floating in the memory, far away, long 

From the head of the Igarape-assu there is a little narrow 

* Mauritia carana. t Bactris maraja ? % Euterpe edulis. 


path, leading back through swamp where one must wade up 
to the knees in black mud ; beyond, the trail passes on to the 
thick forest. There the salsaparilla-gatherers go every year, 
remaining for weeks together by a little muddy pool, where 
the water swarms with leeches ; yet it seems wholesome 
enough for drinking. I once spent four or five days at this 
place, going out every day with my Indian companions, who 
searched the forest for miles around our camp. After a little 
I learned to recognize the prickly salsaparilla-vine, and to dis- 
tinguish from it two or three other species of similar appear- 
ance. The men showed me how to dig the roots with a sharp 
stick, taking care that the larger ones were not broken ; they 
were often ten feet long, but lay very near the surface. 
Sometimes we found half a dozen roots springing from one 
vine, together weighing perhaps two or three pounds ; they 
were all uncovered carefully, and cut off near the stem ; a 
little earth was then drawn about the stumps, so that they 
would send out new shoots. The salzeiros take mental note 
of these places, and return to them during the next season. 
One of our older hunters must have known the localities of 
several hundred vines ; in fact, all the Indians are remarkable 
for their local memories ; if once they have visited a spot 
they will hardly fail to find it again, even after many years. 

I remember our long march home through the woods ; 
each Indian laden with sixty or eighty pounds of salsa and 
game, but trudging on merrily enough. The roots are sold 
to traders, and finally exported, in large part to Europe and 
the United States. No doubt the salsaparilla will be culti- 
vated in time, as it might be with good profit. Mr. Rhome 
has a thriving little plantation of the vines ; but some years 
must pass before they are very productive. Other drugs, 
commonly obtained in the forest, are now produced on the 

1 68 BRAZIL. 

plantation. This shady colonnade is made up of andiroba- 
trees,* and from their large, triangular nuts scattered on the 
ground, is obtained the bitter oil, used for burning and for 
medicinal purposes. This smaller tree is the icructi (anattot), 
which has been cultivated by the Indians from time imme- 
morial ; the scarlet seeds are used for painting calabashes, 
and other small articles, and they are exported in consider- 
able quantities. The magnificent castor-oil plants \ would be 
worth cultivating if only for their beauty ; you will see them 

Looking up the Uaiaia from Tapermha. 

about any country-house, groves that rival the banana-trees 
with which they are contrasted. 

At Taperinha, as at Diamantina and Panema, and far up 
the Tapajos, the bluff-land owes its richness to the refuse of 
a thousand kitchens for maybe a thousand years ; number- 
less palm-thatches, which were left to rot on the ground as 
they were replaced by new ones. For the bluffs were cov- 
ered with Indian houses, " so close together," says Acuiia, 
*'that from one village you can hear the workmen of an- 
other." The people made coarse pottery and marked it with 
quaint devices. We find fragments scattered everywhere, 
and Mr. Rhome has been making archaeological collections 

* Carapa Guyanensis. + Bixa orellana. 

X Ricinus communis, introduced from India. On the Amazons it is called carra- 
pdto^ (name of a wood-tick). 


for years. He gets all sorts of curious clay figures : vultures' 
heads, frogs, a cock with comb and wattles complete,* a 
whistle, and one odd-looking affair punched full of holes, 
which — so Mr. Rhome laughingly insists — must be a tooth- 

We found the black land and its antiquities on the bluffs 
of Panema and Diamantina ; we shall find it, also, all along 
the bluffs of the Lower Tapajos ; and here, twenty-five miles 
below Santarem, we find it again in a like situation. Now, 
all these bluffs are the edges of the same plateau, and the 
pottery and stone implements are everywhere similar. On 
the Tapajos the black land occurs at intervals of from one 
to five miles ; but from Panema to Taperinha, and for some 
distance below, it forms almost a continuous line ; indicating, 
in fact, a single village, or city, thirty miles long, but ex- 
tending only a little way in from the edge of the plateau. 
At intervals, there are signs of ancient roads leading down 
toward the river, as at Diamantina. Acuiia gives no posi- 
tive evidence of such a city ; he says only, that the Tapajos 
region is very populous, and that he and his party encamped 
near a village where were five hundred families. But we 
must remember that the bluffs do not border the main Am- 
azons, except far below here ; Acuna, entering the Tapajos, 
may have encamped near Santarem, which is on lower land, 
five or six miles from the plateau ; or, if he ascended the 
river, he saw only the smaller villages, at Alter do Chao and 
beyond. We have no evidence that he penetrated inland at 
all ; he knew that there were many people on the hills, but 
he did not know that their villages were run together in a 
continuous line. Pedro Texeira, in his voyage to the Tapa- 

* Acuna says that the Indians had fowls, descended from Peruvian stock which 
had been passed from tribe to tribe down the valley. 


jos in 1626, would naturally have entered the main mouth of 
the river, first touching the bluffs near Alter do Chao, as is 
indicated in the chronicle : " He entered the river for twelve 
leagues," and then discovered the Tapajos Indians. So he 
can have seen nothing more than Acuna did in 1639. 

In 1868, the Viscount of Porto Seguro disinterred an 
old manuscript from the Imperial Library of Vienna, and 
published it for the first time. This little book is entitled 
"Description of the State of Maranhao, Para, Corupa (Gu- 
rupa), and River of the Amazons." It was written in 1662 
or thereabouts, by one Mauricio de Heriarte, by order of the 
Governor-General, Diogo Vaz de Sequeira, and it gives a 
great deal of curious information, gathered, no doubt, from 
various Portuguese adventurers. Now, in this work it is dis- 
tinctly stated that there is a great village, or city, of the Ta- 
pajos Indians near the mouth of the river. 

" This Province of the Tapajos is very large, and the first village is 
placed at the mouth of a long and great river, commonly called river of 
the Tapajos. It is the largest village and settlement which we know of, 
up to this time. Alone, it sends out sixty thousand bows, when it 
makes war ; and because the Tapajds Indians are many, they are feared 
by all the nations around, and thus have made themselves sovereigns 
of all that district. They are corpulent, and very large and strong. 
Their. arms are bows and arrows, like those of the other Indians, but 
the arrows are poisoned, so that, until now, no remedy has been found 
against them ; and that is the cause why they are feared of the other 
Indians." * 

A few antiquities have been found near Santarem, but 
there is no black land there, and no evidence of an extensive 
village. We must suppose, therefore, that Heriarte had ref- 
erence to these bluffs, which follow the line of the Amazons 

* Heriarte, op. cit. p. 3$. 


and Tapajos, but five or six miles inland.* The Indians dwelt 
here because of the security which the high land afforded 
them, and because the sandy campo close about Santarem 
was unfit for cultivation. The Portuguese slave-hunting 
parties drove away the Indians, and when the missionaries 
arrived there was only a remnant left. But there can be no 
doubt that the Tapajos tribe occupied the bluff"; whether 
they were the first tenants, or whether all the antiquities are 
to be referred to them, the archeologists must determine. 

Among other objects that were disinterred at Taperinha, 
and described by the late Prof. Hartt, are several broken 
jars, containing fragments of calcined human bones, mixed 
with charcoal and ashes. We know that many of the Bra- 
zilian Indians were accustomed to bury their dead in the 
floors of their houses ; our Taperinha tribe (either the Tapa- 
jos or their predecessors) held this custom, but it would ap- 
pear that they were also cremationists ; burned the bodies or 
bones, and placed them in jars before interring them.f The 
pots are curiously ornamented with angular figures ; from 
these, and other ornamented pottery, Prof. Hartt drew many 
interesting conclusions. Stone utensils are much less com- 
mon at Taperinha than they are on the Tapajos ; they con- 
sist of diorite axe-heads, and a few other implements of the 
same material. I suppose that the bluff-dwellers tipped their 

*See also, Barboza Rodriguez : O Rio Tapajos, p. 125. 

t Prof. Hartt called attention to a similar fact in describing the burial-jars of Ma- 
rajo. "The largest," he wrote, " were too small to accommodate a skeleton, even if 
disarticulated. All the bones found in the urns were fragmentary. The probabili- 
ties are that the bodies were burned, and that only the ashes and charred bones 
were placed in the jars. (Amer. Naturalist, July, 1871.) Barboza Rodriguez, 
I know not with what proof, writes that the bones were buried in " a kind of pot, 
which was placed in a jar ornamented with geometric lines." Among the Mundu- 
rucus of the present day, the bones of dead warriors are kept for three years in the 
houses ; then they are placed in a jar and buried. 

172 BRAZIL. 

arrows with bone and bamboo, as the wild tribes do to this 
day ; two or three beautiful flint arrow-heads have been 
found at Taperinha, but their very rarity leads us to sup- 
pose that they belonged to a much older people than the 
Tapajos. To this older tribe, perhaps, may be referred the 
great Kjocken-inoeding shell-heap below the hill. The heap, 
which is at least twenty feet high, and a hundred yards long, 
is made up of river-shells, unios, castalias, and hyareas ;* it 
contains hardly any pottery, and the few fragments found are 
without ornament ; a sufficient proof, I think, that it cannot 
have been formed by the bluff-dwellers, whose pottery fairly 
covers the ground in many places. f Our host has obtained 
very good lime by burning these shells, and other shell-heaps 
along the Amazons are used for the same purpose. 

But the time comes when we must say a regretful adeos 
to our kind host, who loads us with favors and presents to 
the last, and sends a canoe to take us to Santarem with the 
treasures we have gathered through his kindness. Then 
there is the long night-ride, and the torturing mosquitoes, 
and the sunny morning, and the bright sand-beach by the 
mouth of the Tapajos, with its clusters of javary-palms. So, 
as we leave this American farmer, the important question 
comes up again : Is the Amazons an inviting field for 
American enterprise ? Especially is it fitted for profitable 
farming ? 

By nature, yes. Perhaps so, even with the present bar- 
barous laws that govern settlers. I believe that the Amazons 
Valley is by nature one of the richest agricultural regions of 

* These shell-fish are sometimes eaten by the modern Indians, but they are little 
esteemed. ^ 

t The shell-heap has been described by Barboza Rodriguez (O Rio Tapajos, p. 
36), and by Prof. Hartt. 


the world. I wish also to insist on another fact. Rio de 
Janeiro is five thousand miles, in round numbers, from New 
York ; Para about three thousand. Sugar-cane, cotton, and 
corn will all grow better here, and give larger and surer crops, 
than in the southern provinces ; I know this, not from the 
mere prejudiced reports of the planters, but by months of 
personal observation in both regions. And strange as it 
may seem to our merchants, the finest coffee in Brazil at this 
day grows on the Amazons ; it used to be produced in con- 
siderable quantities, but the industry was killed by the ex- 
port duties and the lack of labor. 

I feel sure that the northern provinces must eventually be 
the great agricultural regions of Brazil, not only because of 
their productiveness, but because they are nearer to Europe 
and America, the great markets. Then there is the further 
advantage of unrivalled water-channels for internal communi- 
cation: in fact, the country seems fitted by nature for an 
agricultural community. 

But here man steps in with his stupid laws and blocks the 
garden gate. On the Amazons there are land-grants for set- 
tlers, it is true, but they are involved in so much red tape 
that one never feels sure of his property ; and the expense 
of surveying, procuring papers, etc., is generally as much as 
it would take to buy the land outright. Machinery and 
agricultural implements are admitted free of duty ; but the 
owner is sure to have a vast deal of trouble at the custom- 
house, because the law is not well understood, or is pur- 
•posely ignored ; and then there is the heavy expense of 
shipping. Finally, there are the insane export duties, which 
will ever remain incomprehensible to a thinking American. 
Why, for instance, should a duty of fourteen per cent, be 
retained on timber, w^hen the simple fact that there is such a 

1 74 BRAZIL. 

duty keeps every stick of timber from the market ? Why 
should a duty be kept on sugar, cotton, hides, when the only 
effect of the impost is to kill the industries altogether by 
preventing competition with other countries ? It is like the 
stingy merchant who insists on charging double price for his 
goods, and only cheats himself by his meanness. 

Mr. Rhome has had to work against these and a thousand 
other obstacles ; but he believes that profitable farming can 
be carried on here, and his own plantation is a striking proof 
of his views. He has adopted the rule of improving on Bra- 
zilian methods of work rather than attempting to introduce 
novelties ; and his produce is all sold in the province,, so that 
it is subject to no duties. 

After all, as I said before, it depends on the man. We 
have seen what Mr. Rhome has done. Well, he has suc- 
ceeded because he is the man to succeed. Very likely, also, 
because he has found a rich and enterprising partner, with 
thirty or forty slaves to do his work. My dear friend, I 
would have failed utterly. So will you, very likely, and 
when you describe the Amazons valley you will nail *' Aban- 
don hope " over the portals and cry to all mankind that my 
misrepresentations led you to this Inferno. I cannot help 
it. I describe natural riches and natural scenery only half as 
brightly as I wish I could. I describe the drawbacks of the 
country as well as I can. I describe one man's success as I 
see it, but with the express addition that this success is ex- 
ceptional, almost unique. I have known many good and 
enterprising men who have failed, or almost failed, on the 
same ground ; I know a few who have succeeded. 

In general, if a man has no money, I would say to him: 
Keep away from Brazil. Brains and muscle are worth at least 
as much at home, and if you fail you fail among friends. But 


if you have a few hundred or thousand dollars to spare on 
the experiment ; if you are content to do without Protestant 
churches ; if you have no children to educate, or can afford 
to take a tutor with you ; if you can be satisfied with strange 
customs and little refined society, then you may go to the 
Amazons with a clear conscience. But go with a definite 
purpose. Don't waste your time on some vague idea of 
riches, to be gained you know not how. Go prepared to do 
hard work, with knowledge and judgment enough to keep 
you out of the fever districts, with patience enough to stand 
the mosquitoes. Then, if you fail, you will at least have 
gained a valuable test of your own capabilities If you suc- 
ceed, you may possibly build up a fortune. 

That is the best that can be said ; but in any case I do 
not think that Americans will be the ones to build up Brazil. 
They will come here, as you and I come, to study nature, 
admire the woods andVivers, enjoy the wild life; they will 
come as merchants to the cities ; but they will not often come 
as planters, because our own country is as rich, and is better 
governed than this one. Some time Brazil will give up her 
senseless colonization schemes, and open this rich land to 
the world, by taking off the burdens of export duties, and 
encouraging manufactures. Then the country will fill up, 
as ours has done, with European emigrants, from which a 
stronger and better race will spring. That is Brazil's hope 
for the future ; we, who write for the present generation, 
cannot be too careful how we encourage /^^r men to come 



BUT what of the deep woods ? Away to the southward 
there stretches a green labyrinth whereof no man 
knows the boundary ; an undiscovered country, a region of 
dreams and mysteries. It must be three or four hundred 
miles at least from here to the open lands of Central Brazil ; 
and this is only a fragment of the whole. To the east, to 
the north beyond the Amazons, to the west fifteen hundred 
miles, there are trees, and trees, close together, minghng their 
boughs, netted with vines, a vegetable infinity. 

From Pizarro's time until now there have been expedi- 
tions into the forest ; scores of authors have written about it 
in nearly every civilized language. But after all, the tangle 
has only been discovered at many different points ; it has 
never been explored. Your careful writer will generalize 
Avith a qualifying phrase : " So far as we know " the forest is 
so and so. I find high woods, for instance, on the Xingii 
along its western bank ; I find similar woods on the eastern 
side of the Tapajos ; and I infer that all the intervening space 
is like these two spots. In this case I have fair confirmation 
from the reports of Indians and fugitive slaves. But from 
other regions there are no reports at all ; tracts as large as 



New England are utterly unknown. However, we may safely 
suppose that the same climate, over the same low plain every- 
where, will encourage a similar forest growth. Reasoning 
from this, and the knowledge that we have, we can tell pretty 
nearly the extent and limits of the great wood. 

In general language we may say that it occupies the 
northern plain of South America. That is, part of Bolivia, 

Forest Group. 

Peru, Ecuador and Colombia east of the Andes ; Southern 
Venezuela; Guiana; and all of Brazil north of lat. 10° S., 
and west of the River Parnahyba, with extensions as far as 
15° or even 20° S. In other words, if you please, the con- 
nected basins of the Amazons and the Orinoco. 

We note two things in the outset. First, the body of the 



forest lies within ten degrees nortii or south of the equator, 
where rains are more or less abundant all through the year ; 
second, it is higher and thicker and wider in the dripping 
west-region ; toward the east it narrows off, and here, also, 
it is broken somewhat by more open tracts, sandy or stony 
campos. The largest of these campos are on the northern 
side of the Amazons, between the river and the Guiana Moun- 
tains. We have seen how the trade-wind is dried by these 

Sandy Campos (Hill-sides) 

mountains, so the rains are less abundant on their lee. To 
the south of the Amazons there are other campos, increasing 
in number and size until we reach the great open table-land 
of Central Brazil. Besides, there are the meadows of the 
Amazonian flood-plain, and more extensive ones on the Ori- 
noco. It is not strictly correct, therefore, to speak of the 
forest as "unbroken." Only to the westward it is really a 


continuous mass ; a circle eleven hundred miles in diameter 
could be drawn within its limits.* 

I am driven, therefore, to this conclusion. The forest 
depends on the rains, as the rivers do. Forest and rivers 
owe their existence to the moist trade-winds blowing freely 
over this great plain, and meeting cold blasts from the west. 
The forest protects the rivers by preventing evaporation ; it 
increases the rains by preventing radiation. The rivers nurse 
the forest, drain the ground, moisten the air. They are all 
joined together, dependent on the same causes, dependent 
on each other : the most abundant rains In the world, the 
greatest river, the largest forest. 

The great cane-field is a clean-cut gap in solid green. All 
around the trees rise like a wall ; where the cutting is recent 
we get a kind of section : a multitude of tall columns, so 
thickly set that you can hardly see the dark spaces within ; 
and at the top a green roof, twenty feet, perhaps, out of the 
hundred. In six months' time the columns will be covered 
up with branches and matted vines, a splendid mantle ; the 
clearing would be filled in too, smothered in second growth, 
if it were let alone. Warm tropical nature has no love for 
bare ground and smooth sward. 

Back of the field we find a cart-path, like a tunnel ; thick 
branches meet overhead, and almost conceal the entrance. 
The air strikes cool in our faces ; coming out of the glare we 
can hardly see at first, so dark it is. Wait a moment, with 
your back to the sunlight ; there are thick-woven branches 
in our way, and cord-like vines that we may trip against, 
and spiny palm-stems ; our eyes must be accustomed to 
the shade before we can avoid them. Now go on, care- 

* Wallace : Amazon and Rio Negro. 

l8o BRAZIL. 

fully ; turn off from the path for a moment, and look about 

You are aware of a maze, a web, what you will that is 
confusing to the eye and mind. There are tree-trunks, that 
you see ; and a multitude of vine-stems ; and a mist of scat- 
tered foliage, obscuring everything without concealing it. 
Near the ground there are not many leaves ; but overhead 
the boughs are woven thick together like a mat ; you can 
see the blue sky only in little patches ; stray beams reach the 
ground sometimes, but all around there is only the solemn, 
diffuse light. The eager leaves above will not let the sun- 
shine pass them ; they crowd into every vacant space, drink 
greedily of the warm flood, push and strive for more of it. 
The trees do not get it all, either ; for over the branches 
clamber a multitude of vines, racing with the twigs, sending 
long shoots into the clear upper air. It is a rampant life up 
there on the forest roof. 

I wonder if the height of the forest is owing to this ; if the 
straining to be topmost has resulted, after awhile, in a gen- 
eral modification of the forest species. I can suppose that 
they were herbs once, then shrubs, then lesser trees, before 
they were giants. Some of them grew sturdy and upright ; 
some that could not be trees had to get their light by climb- 
ing over the others. ''It is interesting," says Mr. Bates, "to 
find that these climbing trees do not form any particular family. 
There is no distinct group of plants whose especial habit is to 
climb, but species of many and the most diverse families, the 
bulk of which are not climbers, seem to have been driven by 
circumstances to adopt this habit. There is even a climbing 
genus of palms." Whether the theory be correct or not, it is 
certain that there are comparatively few small plants in the for- 
est, and the most of these are parasites among the branches. 


At first you do not notice this, or any other single fact ; 
there is only that vague sense of bewilderment, and yet of 
beauty and fitness in it all. It is only after you have spent 
days and weeks here that you can reason on what you see ; 
when the forest is as familiar as home-fields ; when the trees 
and vines are tried friends. But suppose we have this familiar- 
ity, there are a hundred interesting things to note every day. 

It is very different from a northern wood, and yet unlike 
the pictures that we have drawn, building up an ideal from 
green-houses and descriptions. Our conservatories are un- 
natural, because they bring together a great number of trop- 
ical plants from fifty different regions. All these species are 
remarkable for their large leaves, or singular forms, or bril- 
liant flowers ; and they give a very strained idea of tropical 
nature ; a most degrading idea, to my mind ; you can spoil 
even plant-combinations by an excess of ornament. 

There is massing of foliage and bloom in the tropics ; we 
have seen this on the lowland channels and about swamps ; 
but even there the splendor is all outside. Within a forest, 
and especially in the highland woods, there is no massing at 
all ; tree-trunks and branches, and vine-stems, form the main 
part of the picture ; leaves are only a spray thrown over 
them. The tropical foliage, such as we imagine it, is not at 
all prominent. There are palms, not very conspicuous, for 
the dwarf kinds commonly show but five or six leaves, and 
the tall ones have their tops in the maze above ; only in 
some places you will find the handsome stemless Attaleas 
growing abundantly. Broad-leaved plants are not common 
here ; a few grow over the ground, and now and then we see 
calla-like philodendrons on the tree-trunks ; but for the most 
part such species are confined to swamps and brooksides. 
In the thick forest one hardly ever finds a bright flower ; cer- 

1 82 BRAZIL. 

tain trees are splendid in their season with yellow, or purple, 
or white, but you see nothing of this from below. Strong 
colors always seek the sunshine. 

But the forest is intensely tropical for all that. The great 
columns are draped and wreathed with vines ; the branches 
are all bound together with them ; the thick roof is a laby- 
rinth of vine-stems and leaves. Not merely the puny ones 
that we know in the north ; giants, with woody stems like 
the trunks themselves for bigness, clambering up one tall 
tree, rolling over half a dozen other ones, hanging in fes- 
toons from the boughs fifty yards away. You see them 
twisted in every conceivable shape, looped and knotted, 
curving from tree to tree ; one can sit in these wooden 
hammocks and they will hardly sway. There are species 
with smooth stems and rough ones, and spiny ; round, 
square, triangular, flat, gathered into bundles ; and the 
strange, zigzag BaiiJieiiias are like a staircase with raised 
edges. What the foliage is you may conjecture ; it is so 
mingled with that of the hosts that you cannot tell one from 
the other as you stand on the ground ; or there may be a 
dozen different vines clambering over one tree, branches and 
leaves and tendrils forming such a tangle that you despair 
of unravelling them. Among all these are the hundreds of 
cord-like air-roots, dark lines fifty or sixty feet straight up 
and down. Many of these are so small that you hardly no- 
tice them in the shadows ; but they will bear a w^eight of fifty 
pounds. They come from parasites among the branches ; 
after they have taken root they often grow into thick stems, 
about which half a dozen smaller ones may be twined. The 
Apuhy* begins in this way, as a parasite, where the main 

* Ficus, sp. var. 


branches of a tree spread off from the trunk ; it sends down 
air-roots on all sides, to grow and strengthen until they are 
trees themselves ; they clasp their giant host, and choke it to 
death ; and the Judas-tree stands at length a giant in its 

Of course, with all this tangle the forest is far thicker 
than our northern woods. It is much higher, too, than any 
except our pines ; fully a hundred feet in many places, and 
some of the great Eriodendrons and LecytJies rise to two 
hundred feet or more. For the rest, the trees resemble 
northern species ; only many of them have great buttresses 
around the roots, and a few are spiny. The astonishing 
feature is their variety. In a northern forest you find great 
tracts occupied by pines, or maples, or beeches ; or at most 
there are four or five species grouped together. Here, on 
an acre, you will hardly find half a dozen trees that are 
alike ; through a day's walk you may see two or three hun- 
dred. In a few places only you may find great numbers of 
taiiaris^ or castanheiros, or saboneteiros ; but never to the 
exclusion of other kinds. 

How are the trees nourished ? The ground is sandy, as 
it is almost everywhere along the Amazons, and not very 
rich ; it is nearly bare above, for mould does not form in the 
tropics, except about swampy places. At the north the 
leaves fall together, and rot under the snow ; but here they 
drop one by one all through the year; dry up, and are bro- 
ken to dust, and so pass away in the air. Fallen logs and 
branches are eaten by insects ; there is nothing left to form 
a rich soil of. In fact, it is a mistake to suppose that all 
this rampant growth depends on any inherent fertility of the 
ground. The sun and the moist air make up for barren soil ; 
besides the rains there are the heavy dews, and the winds are 

1 84 BRAZIL. 

always soaked. The sand has no richness of its own, but 
it aids in the work by carrying rain to the thirsty roots ; 
water does not collect on the surface ; it sinks at once, and 
is evenly distributed to a great depth ; and in this climate 
the ground has no chance to dry up. 

Many plants get their nourishment from the air. Not 
only the delicate orchids ; there are scores of other epi- 
phytes ; some of the vines, and trees even, depend more on 
the air than on the earth. Here is a taper ebd* tree lying 
across the road ; it was cut, maybe, six months ago, but it 
is as green as ever, and has thrown off a dozen new branches. 
So it is on the plantations ; you can get good crops from 
poor soil. I have seen a healthy-looking tobacco-plant 
growino; out of a chink in a stone wall. 

The path leads into the woods, a mile or more ; young- 
May comes here sometimes to get out timber. Beyond that, 
the hunters have penetrated a little way ; for a mile or two 
more you will find old trails, all grown up, and only marked 
by the cut ends of branches and vines ; and then the forest, 
untouched, omnipresent. 

If you would know the mighty power of this desert, go 
deep into it. Note the direction by your compass if you 
have one ; note where the sun lies ; you cannot see it, but 
you may catch sight of the topmost boughs, lighted only on 
one side. Keep a straight line as nearly as you can ; an ab- 
solutely straight one is impossible ; you must pass by great 
tree-trunks ; you must make detours where the thickets are 
too dense for your wood-knife. Go on an hour, a day, until 
the forest is familiar, until you learn to recognize its thou- 
sand forms. Go until you are hungry, and thirsty, and 

* Spondias lutea ? 


weary with the long fight ; until you know that you are 
insignificant because you feel it. 

You do feel it ; more, even, than on the ocean. For at 
sea there is always the same horizon, a definite boundary to 
vision; and in its very attempts to reach beyond it the im- 
agination forms an ideal ocean, a limited immensity. The 
ship carries you on without any exertion of your own ; you 
know that you are moving, as you know that the earth 
moves ; but day by day there is the same sea and sky to 
give the lie to your reasoning. Alone in the forest, your in- 
significance is forced upon you. You keep your straight 
track, hour after hour ; and it is no easy journey. You must 
do battle for your right of way, cutting a narrow passage 
through hedge-like thickets, and mats of woody vines, and 
interlaced branches. Now, after a day of hard fighting, you 
lay yourself at the foot of some giant tree, and look up, up 
to where the boughs are all mingled together, and single 
leaves are indistinguishable ; where the fragments of blue 
sky seem hardly more distant than the tree-tops, as if you 
saw them through an inverted telescope. And then you 
gaze off through the vague net-work of leaves and tree- 
trunks and rope-like air-roots and twisted vines, until the 
vision is lost, you know not where, only you feel in your in- 
most soul that there is a mysterious, an unfethomable depth 
beyond ; tired and worn as you are, you know that you have 
only passed the borders of this infinity, where you could go 
on for weeks, months, and never reach the end ; you com- 
pare your own littleness with the littleness of a single tree 
which, standing alone, would be a beacon for miles around ; 
and you bow your head with fear and trembling. 

Think, now. You are separated from the world, more 
than you would be in the deserts of Africa or Australia. 

1 86 


You are alone, utterly ; an army of men could not find you ; 
your dearest friend, your most hated foe could not track 
you ; the vultures would not reach your body if you died 
here. You could not find your own way out, but by the 
path you came over, or the noted direction. 

Very few men will care to go far into the forest without 
companions. There is always a possible jaguar to fear ; and 
then one may get lost; I have been, once or twice; only 
for a few hours, but the sensation was not an enviable one. 

In the Forest. 

Some years ago a boy wandered off in these woods and 
was never heard of again ; the whole colony turned out and 
hunted for three days. The boy may have been killed by 
wild animals ; he may have died of hunger or thirst. Who 
can '^ay ? There are such terrible possibilities in the word 

But we would go deeper into the mystery. We plan an 
excursion with the young Americans ; half a dozen are will- 


ing to go for the hunting, or the fun, or the mere pleasure 
of going where nobody else has been. We engage two In- 
dians to accompany us ; each man carries a hammock and 
blanket, a sack of mandioca-meal, his wood-knife, and a gun 
if he has one ; a calabash jug of water, also, for we can- 
not expect to find any, during the first day at least. Thus 
heavily laden, we leave the house at sunrise and file off 
through the cane-field, where the dew rattles off and soaks 
us all thoroughly. Once in the deep woods we seek for a 
surveying-line which was cut, seven or eight years ago, by 
some enterprising engineer. We find it with difficulty, and 
follow it by the old cuts ; it leads directly south, no one in 
the party knows how far ; but the end of the line w^ill mark 
the farthest limit to which any white man has attained. Of 
course, we resolve to outdo the engineer, and gather his 
glory to ourselves. 

We march slowly ; our water-jugs are clumsy and bur- 
densome, and the undergrowth is very thick. Our Indians 
march ahead, hewing right and left with their wood-knives, 
a vine here and a branch there ; we follow in single file, 
dodging about tree-trunks, clambering over logs, tripping 
now and then against the vine-stems, going deeper and 
deeper into the solitude. Once or twice a cotia crosses 
the path, or a deer ; for the rest there is not a sign of life ; 
in the thick woods you do not often notice a bird, except in 
the early morning. 

The brown guides are almost as ignorant of the ground 
as we are. None of the Panema Indians have ever ventured 
far into the forest. They wander three or four miles back 
from the bluff, hunting, or looking for />igum-f ru'its* in their 

* Caryocar butyrosum ? 

1 88 BRAZIL. 

season. This piquia is a favorite dish. The fruit is con- 
tained in a thick shell ; it is separated from this, and boiled, 
and the thin oily pulp is scraped off from the hard nut within, 
as we eat green corn. "Not much more palatable than a 
raw potato,'' Mr. Bates thought ; but most people like them 
well, and they are very nourishing. Often we have seen 
them on the tables of our colonists, a steaming-hot panful, 
deliciously fragrant. A sweet oil is extracted from the fruit ; 
and they make ink of the outer shells, rich in gallic acid. 
The Indians are very fond of piquias ; as we march, our men 
are taking mental note of the trees that we pass. Forest 
monarchs, these are ; the branches, contrary to the rule of 
forest-trees, are spreading and rough, like an oak, but vastly 
larger than any oak I ever saw. 

Of other forest-fruits there are not many ; a Brazil-nut 
tree now and then, or a janitd, with little sour yellow ber- 
ries. The Indians are quick to see these forest treasures. 
Both of them are clever woodsmen : will tell you the name 
of almost any tree, and its uses ; whether the timber be good 
or bad ; what will last as uprights in the ground, and what 
can be used for beams and rafters. When they are in doubt 
of a wood, they hack the bark a little, and smell of it, or 
taste it ; almost an unfailing test. 

The man Theodoro is a young fellow, brawny-armed, and 
good-natured, as strong men are apt to be. The other, 
Joao, is older ; a little, silent, wrinkled figure, but with the 
more endurance of the two, I fancy. He has brought his 
little boy with him ; nine-year-old Graciliano must be tak- 
ing his first lesson in woodcraft. The little fellow marches 
along, barefooted, with a water-jug on his head ; noticing 
everything, but quite silent. He has a shirt and trousers 
in the civilized fashion ; but we never see him with the two 


on together ; one or the other garment is always wound 
about the water-jug, with picturesque effect. 

By and by a shower comes up ; we stop under a great 
tree and improve the time to eat our breakfast. One could 
camp very comfortably between these roots ; sapopemas the 
Indians call them, great flat buttresses spreading out on 
every side for two or three yards, and rising against the 
trunk to double that height. I do not know what species 
this is ; a samatima* very likely, but many of the forest- 
trees have buttresses, small or large ; supports to keep the 
tree from falling over. Sometimes the Indians cut out por- 
tions of a sapopema and use them for thick planks ; in the 
forest a hut is often built against one of these trees, with the 
buttressed roots for sides. 

As we proceed the hunters are looking out for our din- 
ner ; not very successfully, for the whole afternoon brings us 
only a single partridge-like bird. We trudge on, wearily 
enough by this time, and soaked with the wet leaves, always 
through the same tangle of vines and undergrowth. At 
four o'clock we halt for the night ; our hunters go out to 
try for better luck, and the rest of us build a fire and swing 
the hammocks to friendly saplings ; palm-leaves for thatch 
there are none ; we form a rough shelter of boughs and trust 
that it will not rain. 

Graciliano pulls my sleeve gently, ^^ Olhe I MacaqiiinJio ! '' 
he whispers (Look there ! a little monkey !) ; and sure enough 
we see not one merely, but half a dozen peering down 
through the branches a hundred yards away. Some one 
runs after them, while our brown imp fairly dances with ex- 
citement. A successful shot brings down one : poor thing, 

* Eriodendron samauma. 

190 BRAZIL. 

it is a sad penalty for its curiosity. The others scamper off 
through the tree-tops, with flying leaps of twenty feet or 
more. Presently the explorers return with one more mon- 
key ; some one objects faintly that these are not game, but 
hunger outweighs all other considerations. The monkeys 
go over the fire with the skin on, after the Indian fashion, 
and are not bad eating when one is hungry. It is well to 
note that these, and other forest animals, should be cleaned 
as soon as they are killed ; otherwise the flesh may savor too 
rankly of the woods. 

One objection we find to our bits of broiled monkey ; 
there are not enough of them. However, we manage to eke 
out the repast with mandioca-meal ; then we turn into our 
hammocks and light fragrant cigarettes. There are no mos- 
quitoes here ; the air is pure and cool ; one could fare worse 
we think. Little Graciliano has no hammock ; his father 
makes him a bed, or stage of sticks, like a bench, and the 
child lies down about as comfortably, you think, as one 
could on a pile of door-knobs. He goes to sleep immedi- 
ately, having donned both shirt and trousers by way of 
covering. We, in the hammocks, will shiver before morning, 
with our blankets wrapped tightly around us. 

Branches overhead are just gilded with the last glow : fine- 
cut, misty leaves of myrtles and acacias. Humboldt, I think, 
was the first to notice the peculiar effect of these pinnate 
leaves, a striking feature of the tropical forests. Of these and 
other trees there are a score of kinds about our encampment ; 
a splendid grove if it were anywhere else. This one, to 
which my hammock is tied, is 2. jetahy,"^ strong durable tim- 
ber, but too hard for most purposes. The oval, brown fruits 

* Sometimes yV/i'a/^v ■■ Hymenoeoe, sp. var. 


are scattered on the ground ; hard shells, with a sweet, yellow 
meal enclosing the seeds. A gum-like copal exudes from 
the trunk ; the Indians use this jetaJiyseca for varnishing 
their clay pots and crockery, and to burn the pottery a hot 
fire is made of jetahy bark. This smaller tree is an acauba* 
wild cacao, and possible parent of the cultivated kind ; the 
others are loicros,'^ piranhaicbas^ cotitertibds, and so on 
through a score of useful and useless kinds with sonorous 
names. For the rest, I know nothing of the scientific names, 
or whether they are named at all ; the botanists will be find- 
ing new ones for a hundred years. 

Night draws on apace ; the fire-light dances over tree- 
trunks and branches. It is very quiet here in the deep 
woods. Out on the open lands, and near the villages, there 
is the ringing concert of insect-life, and the weeping night- 
birds ; around the varzea lakes there are croaking frogs and 
chirping crickets, and fish leaping about in the shallows. But 
we hear nothing of this about our camp ; there is no sign of 
life, except the weird moths flitting about our fire, and once 
or twice the rustle of some animal in the thickets ; a deer, 
maybe, that has come to the light. We lie awake for a long 
time, as one will at a first camp, watching the falling embers 
and musing vaguely. What a tiny spot our camp is in the 
great woods ! 

In the morning there is the same silence ; no hubbub and 
flutter of birds to welcome the sun. Once or twice only, a 
pair of macaws go flying over our heads, startling us with a 
great scream as if they were close to our ears. So it is 
through the day ; the few sounds are so abrupt and strange 
that they only make the after-silence more impressive. If 

* Theobroma, sp. t Cryptocarpa, sp. 

192 BRAZIL. 

you step on a twig the alarm-bird sounds his three or four 
shrill notes, each one in a lower key than the last ; now and 
then an inambil* partridge wails in the thickets, and some- 
times we hear that long, mournful whistle of the lost soul-bird, 
as of one crying from the abyss. Rarely you see a bird pass- 
ing under the boughs, and where the shade is darkest, silent- 
winged brown butterflies flit along the ground. But in the 
gloom these things hardly seem alive; they are ghostly forms, 
without breath, a part of the silence. 

The day's march is a very tiresome one ; we are continu- 
ally getting off the survey line and only finding it again after 
long delays. Our calabashes are nearly empty ; they are 
most awkward things to carry, for we can only hold them by 
hooking two fingers into the hole that serves as a mouth. 
Two or three have been upset and the water spilled. Joao, 
who has been thus far, declares that there is a pool ahead, 
but we find only a dry bed of mud with tapir-tracks all over 
it. Such pools are met with at long intervals, but most of 
them dry up at the end of the rainy season. 

By two o'clock we reach the end of the survey line, where 
great letters are carved on two large trees. Here we call a 
council of war. We have been on short allowance of water 
all day and there is hardly a quart left ; it will take us, at 
least, ten hours to return, for even when a path has been cut, 
it is difficult to make more than two miles an hour through 
the undergrowth. However, we resolve to camp here ; two 
of the men volunteer to explore for water with Joao ; and the 
rest of the party are tired enough to lounge in their ham- 
mocks. We are swarming with little black ticks, and dirty 
and perspiring as only a forest march can make us. How 

* Crypturus, sp. 


we long for the evening bath at Panema ! But, being philo- 
sophical, we content ourselves with a dry rub. 

Theodoro returns from a hunting tour and declares that he 
has shot at a tapir ; an encouraging sign, for these animals are 
never seen far from a watercourse or pool. Toward night our 
exploring party come in ; they report a dry watercourse below, 
with signs of water; so we resolve to push on in the morning. 

We have breakfasted on mandioca-meal, and for dinner 
our hunters have brought only a monkey and two birds ; 
small show for eight hungry stomachs. One of the birds is a 
rmitiini, as large as a hen ; the other is a splendid hyacinthine 
macaw, rare treasure for ornithologists, but the Indians have 
pulled out every tail-feather, to our great disgust. The bird, 
being an old one, is about as palatable as leather, but what 
flesh it has we dispose of, and wash down our scanty meal 
with the last drops of water. The mosquitoes are thick 
enough at this place. 

Toward morning a light rain comes on; we toss and soak 
until daylight, a sorry crowd. Not a drop of water to drink, 
much less to w^ash in, and only a handful of mandioca-meal 
to whet our ravenous appetites. Of course we are thirsty ; 
grow more so as we march, until our throats are parched and 
we can hardly speak. By and by Joao finds some water- 
vines ; each man cuts a yard of the stem in haste and holds 
it upside down over his open mouth. A few spoonfuls only he 
gets, and that is rather bitter; but our regret is that there are 
so few of the vines. There are other kinds that are full of a run- 
ning stream ; you must cut your yard of water above, and then 
below, for if you cut first below, the stream will run beyond 
your reach before you can hack the vine through again.* 

* Water is obtained also Irom the overground-roots of the forest imbauba^ 


194 BRAZIL. 

Down a long slope now, until we reach a dry flat with 
palm-trees and matted vines. We follow this to the south ; 
there are marks of a dry watercourse, and the trees are such 
as grow in wet places. At length, to our great joy, we find 
a little muddy pool ; the tapirs must have been wallowing 
here overnight, for their tracks are fresh all around the edge ; 
but we are not dainty ; such long draughts we take, and 
think it delicious, too, though you cannot see half an inch 
into the mixture. We fill our calabashes, for there is no 
telling what we may find ahead ; bathe, of course, and then 
follow on down the valley. Breakfast is out of the question; 
we have enough to think of to provide for our dinner. 

The flat is narrowed now to a valley, not more than a 
hundred yards across, and matted with vines and saplings, 
as you have seen wild grape-vines draped over a tree. We 
have three of our strongest men ahead, cutting a path ; but 
it takes us two hours to pass a mile of this hedge. Once 
we stumble into a nest of stinging taixi*^ ants, like red-hot 
needles. After this mile the flat widens out again, and is 
covered with noble /'/<^//rt:.?;/-palms t, with no undergrowth at 
all, so that we can walk freely between the stems. We go 
on in this way six or eight miles more, before we reach 
another pool. Near this we go into camp and send out an 
exploring party as before. 

But alas ! The hunters bring not even a bird. We sup 
disconsolately on mandioca-meal, and a little tea which some 
thoughtful one has in his pack, steeping this in a tin cup 
and drinking it without sugar. Then we hold another coun- 
cil. It is agreed that there are signs of game in abun- 
dance, but we have lost it in our eagerness for exploration. 

* These ants live only on the taixi tree ; they are very pugnacious. 
+ Attalea. 


The majority are in favor of exploring the flat, which prom- 
ises to lead to a stream, and so perhaps to the River Curua ;* 
but we yield to a minority who plead engagements at home. 
It is resolved to remain here for one day, to hunt and ex- 
plore as far to the south as we can, and then to return, in 
two marches, by our old route. It is raining again by this 
time, but we have a good hut ; the great leaves of the 
uauasii make capital thatch, as dry as shingles ; moreover, 
we have bathed, and if the mosquitoes are numerous we 
have not the added torture of ticks and red mites. So we 
go to sleep and forget that we are starving on a thin allow- 
ance of mandioca. 

In the morning we discuss the last of this, and of the tea ; 
the hunters hurry off, and two or three of us start to explore 
the flat. We find one pool after another now, and at length 
a sluggish stream with a general course to the southeast. It 
is agreed that this must be a tributary of the Curua, but 
whether our conjecture is right or not some future explorer 
must say. We do not care to go far; there are shots behind 
us, and one of our own party has shot a brace of great coatd 
monkeys. So we hurry back with a certainty of breakfast, 
and presently meet another party who are lugging a red 
deer into camp, with a third monkey and two land-tor- 
toises ; whereat we shout and rub our stomachs approvingly. 

Close by the camp we hear C. calling us loudly ; he was 
coming to the pool for water, when he was aware of a great 
red panther standing right in his path. C. had only his 
wood-knife ; he made a rush at the beast to scare it, but it 
would not be scared ; squatting close to the ground, it lashed 
its sides with its tail and eyed C. in a very ugly manner. 

*The Curud de Santarem, so called to distinguish it from the Curua d'Alen- 
quer, which flows into the Amazons from the north. 

196 BRAZIL. 

Our friend was about to retreat when he heard our party 
coming up. The panther heard us too, and apparently 
found himself outmatched, for he turned tail ignobly and 
ran off into the forest. One or two of the men gave chase, 
without success ; and C. was the hero of the hour. 

P. has had his adventure also. He was watching at the 
pool with his gun for an hour or two, and then fell fast 
asleep, sitting on a log ; presently, opening his eyes, he saw 
a deer standing about ten feet away from him, and staring in 
evident surprise. The deer made off when P. moved, but a 
shoulder shot brought him down neatly, and before we re- 
turn P. has a side over the fire. We make high feast for 
the rest of the day ; vote that forest-life is delightful, and 
have half a mind to push on after all. C.'s rencontre with 
the panther brings up a host of anecdotes about the various 
species. These red ones {^Felis concolor), the same that is 
found in North America, are much smaller and less feared 
than the jaguar {F. onqd) and black tiger. Of these there 
are a dozen bloody stories ; one man tells how a boat-builder 
on the Tapajos was attacked from behind as he stood over 
his work ; a blow from the great paw laid him senseless, and 
he never spoke thereafter. Another story, better authenti- 
cated, is of a Panema Indian, who was killed only two years 
ago ; he went to hunt in the woods, and never returned ; a 
search revealed his body, mangled fearfully, and with his 
empty gun lying near. It is conjectured that he shot at a 
jaguar and perhaps wounded it, but was killed in the subse- 
quent struggle. Several of the young men have killed red 
panthers like this one that C. met ; the general verdict is, 
that they are cowardly unless badly hurt. 

Hunters speak of at least eight species oi Felidce in these 
parts. The smallest is a gray wild-cat {gato do inato), prob- 


ably the F. jaguarondi, or an allied species. Next there is 
a small spotted species, which may be F. Worwickii ; then 
a larger ocelot, or perhaps two or three — what species it is 
impossible to say in the confusion. All these small spotted 
kinds are called viaracajds ; they are only troublesome by 
robbing poultry-houses, as foxes do at home. The red F. 
concolor is common everywhere ; by all accounts it extends 
from Canada to Patagonia, but there are varieties which are 
distinguished by the Indians, and have sometimes been de- 
scribed as distinct. The common name on the Amazons is 
oiiqa vcnnclha, or, in the lingua geral, suaai-rana, false 
deer, because it looks like a deer in the forest. Of the larger 
kinds there are three, well defined. F. on<^a, the jaguar, be- 
longs properly in the lowlands, though it is frequently seen 
about the edges of the terra firme. This is the on^a par 
excellence ; but the Indians have their special name, jaua- 
retc pacova-sororoca — onca of the wild plantains (a common 
plant of the river banks). The other spotted kind is never 
seen on the lowlands, and it is quite different in form and 
habits from the F. onca. Moreover, it is readily distin- 
guished by its markings ; the on^a has rings or roses of 
black on a light ground ; this one has small black spots, 
running into stripes on the back, but never gathered into 
rings. I believe there can be no doubt that the two are dis- 
tinct, and that the highland species is undescribed ; it does 
indeed approach the F. Hernandizi, Gray,* from Mazatlan. 
Variety or species, our highland onga is not connected 
with its cousin by any gradation ; and the Indians always 
distinguish it as the nriaudra, or dog on^a (pnqa cachorrd). 

* Figured in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, with a hand- 
some colored plate ; but the markings are much like those of F. on(a, and it has 
since been regarded as a variety of that species. 

198 BRAZIL. 

For my part 1 would trust an Indian, in such a question, 
quite as readily as an anatomist. The black tiger, largest 
and fiercest of all, has been regarded as a melanic variety 
of the jaguar, but the Indians laugh at that idea. The black 
species, they say, belongs only on the terra firme, like the 
uriauara ; the black mother always has black cubs; the ani- 
mal attains a larger size, and is feared far more than the 
most terrible jaguar. Finally, the body is thicker and heav- 
ier in proportion, and the Indians distinguish the cry of this 
species from that of any other. For the present, I prefer 
to believe that they are right, and that F. nigra is a valid 

We see no more onc^as, though their tracks are fresh 
about the water. Clearly, the abundance of game here is 
owing to the pool, where forest animals must come to drink ; 
and here in the deep forest, they have never been hunted. 
We, being the first comers, have more than we can well dis- 
pose of; all the afternoon the men are smoke-drying the 
meat to carry home ; so prepared, it will keep for two or 
three days. The land-tortoises must go alive ; in the mean- 
while they are hanging to branches around, each one tied 
with a thong of bark about its shell. 

I have been cleaning the skeleton of a deer, for my col- 
lection. The Indians, too, are enriching themselves ; they 
have found a tauari\ tree near by, and are tearing off great 
strips of the bark and making it into cigarette-papers. The 
hard outer portion is removed from the strips ; then the ends 
are hammered against a tree-trunk until the fibres turn over 

*I regret that my specimens were lost. I have no desire to create species, but 
the notes I give have been carefully gathered, from at least fifty hunters, and com- 
pared with my own observations on the skins. 

t Couratari gujanensis, or some allied species. 



and separate into thin leaves, like brown paper. These must 
be boiled to extract the bitter sap, and carefully dried ; then 
they are cut off as required. Many persons prefer this tauari 
paper to any other for smoking. When burning, it has a 
distinctly sweet flavor and no disagreeable smoke. 

Altogether, we are quite loaded down when we leave 
camp in the morning. The guides have woven deep/^;/;/^^?/ 
baskets of palm-leaves ; 
they are strapped like 
knapsacks to our shoul- 
ders, and further sup- 
ported with a band 
around the forehead. 
So we trudge home 
wearily ; taking nearly 
two days with the march 
before we come out by 
the great Inaja palm at 
the civilized end of the 
forest-path. I suppose 
that our farthest point 
was less than thirty miles 
from the bluff, or forty 
from Santarem; but no 
one has been so far be- 
fore ; only to the south- 
east twenty or thirty 
miles, on the Rio Curua, there is a colony of fugitive slaves, 
and white traders may have ascended that river. 

Young May is building a shed, or a mill-house, or what 
not; he explores the forest every day for timber. There are 
trees, and plenty of them, close about the house, but they are 

Inaja Palms. 

200 BRAZIL. 

not those that he wants; he must have /^^'^ d'arco,^ jaca- 
randd,^ itauba^X the hard, time-resisting woods that are proof 
against rot and insects. Building his shed with ordinary 
timber, he would have to rebuild it in a year. The damp 
air and soil will rot any but the best woods. The white 
ants and boring beetles would riddle other beams until they 
fell to pieces of their own weight ; for the uprights especially, 
only a few kinds will do, and these are scattered far and wide. 
A mile back from the clearing he may find the tree that he 
wants ; he cuts it in a half-day's hard work, for the wood 
is like iron ; cuts it again under the branches, and then drags 
the log out painfully with his ox-team. After that he 
must hew it into the shape required, for the single saw-mill 
of the colony is too far away to be of use to him. Alto- 
gether, his shed will cost him at least five times as much 
work as a similar one would in a pine forest ; to be sure, it 
is built of cabinet woods, and the unpainted frame will last 
fifty years. 

This brings us to an important question : the value of the 
great forest as a timber-mart. People wonder — I have won- 
dered myself — why the world has neglected it so long. The 
priest Acuna, writing in 1641, grew enthusiastic over his 
theme : 

" The trees of this river," he says, '■'■ are without number ; so high 
that they reach to the clouds, so thick that it causes astonishment ; a 
cedro that I measured myself was thirty pahns in circuit. The most of 
them are good timbers, so you could desire no better; for there are 
cedros, ceibas, pale wood, dark wood, and many others, recognized in. 
these regions to be the best in the world for ships, which could be made 
here better and at less cost than anywhere else, finished and launched, 
without sending to Europe for anything except iron for the nails. For 

*Bignonia, sp. t Rosewood; also a Bignonia. :[ Acrodiclidium, sp. 


here, as I have said, are woods from which to choose ; here are cables as 
good as of hemp, made of the bark of certain trees, which will hold a ship 
in the heaviest gale ; here are pitch and tar ; here is oil, as well vegetable 
as from fish ; here is excellent oakum, which they call embira, for calk- 
ing the ships ; here is cotton for the sails ; and here, finally, is a great 
multitude of people, so that nothing is wanting for as many ships as may 
be placed on the stocks." * 

In 1876 the Brazilian Government sent a large collection 
of woods to the Philadelphia exposition, and they attracted a 
great deal of attention, even among the crowd of other things ; 
people were astonished at their variety and beauty. In truth, 
the collection embraced only a small part of the most valu- 
able kinds ; on the Amazons alone there must be two or 
three hundred that would be worth exporting, besides the 
great host of valueless ones that make up the forest. But 
precisely here is the commercial difficulty. There are so 
many" kinds that they will seldom pay the cutting. 

Lumbermen deal in large quantities ; they want so many 
hundred thousand or million feet of a certain kind of wood. 
Now, suppose I should agree to furnish a million feet of pao 
d'arco ; I would be baffled in the outset, because the trees 
are few and far between ; I must cut a road for every one, 
and then in a square mile of timber-land I would get no more 
than fifty or a hundred logs. By rare good luck I may find 
an exceptional spot where the species that I am searching 
for exists in quantity, but such tracts are limited and often 
far from the river-banks, where they are valueless, at present. 

The natural remedy is the formation of large, central 
store-yards, where the timber can be sorted and shipped. 
Suppose that a grade of prices were set for the different kinds 
of logs, so much per foot for each, in large or small quantity. 

* Nuevo descubrimiento del gran Rio de las Amazonas, xxvi. 

202 BRAZIL. 

I imagine that the supply would come in slowly at first, but 
it would increase as people saw the advantages of a fixed 
price ; men would enter into the business ; government land 
would be taken up, and so after a while there would be a 
large and active timber-trade all through the valley. 

In any case, these hard woods cannot take the place of 
pine and other soft kinds ; and even if they could, the Ama- 
zonian forests could never compete with our northern ones 
for cheap timber. Lumbermen will tell you that it does not 
always pay to cut pine forest. The trees must be on hill- 
sides, generally, and not far from a river, so that they can 
be *' slipped " down over the snow and floated to market. 
Here, under the tropics, there is no snow. Suppose you get 
your log to the river ; it will not float unless it be a cedro or 
some one of the few other light kinds, and most of these are 
good for nothing.* 

But if the world does not want an unlimited supply of 
cabinet woods, it does want them in pretty large quantities, 
and will pay well for them. If it is w^orth while to cut ma- 
hogany and rosewood in Honduras and the West Indies, it 
will be worth while to cut fifty kinds on the Amazons ; only 
one must choose the ground, near river-banks and where the 
best trees are abundant. One often hears it said that good 
timbers are never found near the river ; but this is a great 
mistake. The varzea species are generally soft and worth- 
less, and these are the ones that are seen along the main 
Amazons. But there are plenty of deep side-channels and 
tributaries that run along the terra firme and by the richest 
timber-lands ; schooners could ascend from Para in a few 

* It is only fair to say that many of these facts were suggested to me by Maj. O. 
C James, of Rio de Janeiro, a sharp observer and one thoroughly acquainted with 
the pros and cons of Brazilian commerce. 

THE FORESr. 203 

days and take loads from the banks. I know of such places 
along the Tapajos, where the splendid itiaracoattara* grows 
quite commonly almost at the water's edge ; and with it 
there are a dozen other woods, only less beautiful. 

Most of the forest is government land ; certain valuable 
portions belong to the Amazon Steamboat Company, which 
•would be glad enough to dispose of the timber at a reason- 
able profit. As for the government, it has never done any- 
thing for the timber trade ; on the contrary, there is the 
suicidal export tax that burdens every industry in Brazil. 
At present, I believe, the duty at Para is fourteen per cent. 
.ad valorem. If the logs are brought from the Upper Brazil- 
ian Amazons, they must pay an additional tax on passing 
from one province to the other ; but if they come from Peru, 
they pay no tax at all, because the river is now a free high- 
way. So far as I know, the value of this duty has never 
reached one hundred dollars in any single year ; commonly, 
it does not figure at all in the custom-house reports. If it 
has any effect, it is to frighten people away from the timber- 
trade ; the difficulties are great enough, as we have seen ; 
and this extra burden would make a sad drain on the pos- 
sible profits. 

Possibly the tax might be removed or modified, if a de- 
termined effort were made against it. At any rate, I am 
inclined to think that an Amazonian timber company might 
succeed very well if it were properly managed. The natu- 
ral drawbacks are probably less than in other tropical coun- 
tries, and the forest land is very cheap. But in this and 
every other Brazilian project one cannot start with too much 
care. The ground must be carefully examined by experi- 

* Corruption of muird-koaiidra ; literally, striped wood ; a handsome, dark tim- 
ber, hardly inferior to leopard-wood, to which it seems to be allied. 

204 BRAZIL. 

enced men ; the scarcity of labor must be considered, and 
the hundred stumbhng-blocks that will be thrown in the way 
by stupid government officials and jealous merchants. Then 
the enterprise, once started, must be backed by a liberal 
supply of money and unlimited perseverance. 

Perhaps the Jesuit's dream will be realized some day ; 
for surely he was right when he said that no other country 
was so well fitted for ship-building. But it is not simply that 
iron for nails and copper for sheathing must be imported, 
with fifty other things ; the " great multitude of people " has 
melted away under Portuguese mismanagement and tyr- 
anny ; there are no skilled workmen ; the scattered valley 
population is ignorant and unprogressive, and in the south 
the coffee-trade absorbs all attention. 

We stand here in the forest and wonder at the riches 
about us : unavailable riches — as useless as Crusoe's money. 
But they are grandly beautiful ; you and I are richer for the 
great trees, if the world at large is not. 



AT Diamantina and Taperinha, all our mornings are 
spent in the woods and clearings, gathering new 
treasures for our collections and great store of notes on 
the forest animals and their habits. Mr. Piatt has fitted up 
a laboratory in his great kitchen, with a dry-goods box 
for a table, and a hanging shelf to keep our collections from 
the ants. Here we sit in the hot hours, working over the 
treasures that the morning has given us, taking notes, 
labelling, and packing all away securely from the damp 

Mrs. Piatt is hospitable, and willing to let us use her kit- 
chen ; but one trial we have brought her — our pet monkey, 
Nick. It is a little Cebus that I bought one day in Santarem, 
and brought home on horseback ; the monkey attracted 
some attention in the street by climbing to the top of my 
Madras hat, and sitting there like a crest to a helmet, chat- 
tering, meanwhile, in a tremendous flow of monkey-ora- 
tory. Arrived at Piatt's house, Nick was tied to a beam; he 
got loose the very next day, and proceeded to explore the 
house and all its furniture ; ran, at length, into the box- 
pantry, and uncovered all the dishes until he found a cup 
of molasses, from which he helped himself liberally. Mrs. 



Piatt remonstrated with a switch, and Nick retired to a beam 
above, Hcking his fingers. 

After that, there is no ruHng him. We tie him every 

day, but he always man- 
ages to get loose, or some 
mischievous child sets 
him free ; from one end 
of the house to the other 
he runs, with the cord 
dragging behind him ; 
upsetting boxes and cups, 
peering into the looking- 
glass^ teasing the dog, 
seeking everywhere for his favorite 
molasses. He is fond of insects too. 
I find him thieving from my cases, 
and send him off with a boxed car, 
declaiming loudly against my cruelty. 
One day he gets even with me. There 
IS a beam over our work-table, and a 
rope hanging from it. Nick runs slyly 
along this beam, lets himself down 
on the rope, and snatches a grasshop- 
per over my shoulder ; then he is off 
again in a trice, grinning and exhibit- 
ing his capture, and chattering deri- 
sion in the most heart-rending manner. 
Nick disappears shortly after this. 
Whether he is lost, or whether he has 
run away to escape the dreaded morning wash, or whether 
he is a victim to Mrs. Piatt's housekeeping, we never learn. 
But thereafter we buy no more monkeys. There is another 

Spider Monkeys. 



one in the house ; not a troublesome one, but a Httle help- 
less baby Coata,* only a month old. The mother was shot 
in the woods, and this little one was found clinging to her 
body when she fell. The little monkey is lank and ungainly, 
with long, black hair, and great, black, beseeching eyes that 
fill with tears when the orphan is aggrieved ; he is very like 
a human baby in his actions, sucking his fingers or playing 
with chips lazily ; hardly able to crawl around, but clinging 
to everything with his strong prehensile tail. He moans 
softly when we caress him, and cries like a child when we go 
away. Poor thing, he misses Nick sadly ; our mischief-loving 
cebus liked nothing better than to cuddle or caress the coata ; 
a funny sight, for Nick was hardly half as large as this over- 
grown infant. 

Older coatas are most affectionate pets. At one of the 
American houses we find a full-grown one, which is kept tied 
to a tree before the door ; it always greets you by going 
through a series of sprawling gymnastic exercises, hanging 
by one or another long arm, or often by its tail, crooning and 
shaking its head to attract attention ; then, when you come 
A'ithin grasping distance, it embraces you tenderly around the 
/leck, as an affectionate child might. 

Our monkey's cousins are in the woods ; now and then 
we see a prego or a coata swinging among the trees ; and 
the hunters speak of ten or twelve kinds in this vicinity. 
Nearly all species go in bands — two or three, or a dozen ; 
they are travellers by nature ; I never heard of their fre- 
quenting a particular place, much less of having a settled 
habitation. Mrs. Monkey travels with the children on her 
back until they can go alone; they all live on wild fruits, 

* Ateles^ sp. 



and on insects which they catch cleverly with their hands. 

But it is not easy to observ^e their habits in the woods ; 

they travel among the thick-leaved upper boughs, hardly 

ever approaching the ground ; so that it is only by rare 

good luck that we catch a glimpse of them. 

Of the other forest animals we see only three or four 

here. The pret- 
ty red and white 
deer* are as com- 
mon as any, com- 
ing to feed in the 
great cane-field, 
where we some- 
times find them. 

They are very 
curious. I re- 
member a red 
deer that stood 
looking at me 
steadily while I 
within ten yards 
of her, before she 
bounded ofT to 
the woods. We 
Young Pacas. find that tlic vcn- 

ison of these deer is inferior to that of our northern species. 
The pacas t are much better game. They are rodents, allied 
to our squirrels and rats, but very unlike them in appear- 

*Coassus rufus, C. nemorivagus. There are other species of these straight- 
horned deer. 

+ Coelogenis paca. 


ance — heavy animals, two feet long when they are full-grown, 
and so fat that they can hardly run at all; however, they are 
very pretty, colored white and light brown, and spotted along 
the back something like a fawn. Properly, the pacas are noc- 
turnal ; if we find one by chance in the day-time, it goes 
blundering about among the trees, and we can easily catch it 
if the ground is open. Sometimes Piatt shoots them with 
trap-guns, which they are sure to tumble against. The flesh 
is very tender and sweet, so the helpless pacas are hunted 
■continually; they must increase very fast, or they would be 
much more rare about the settlements. 

The agoutis, or cotias* as they are called here, are re- 
lated to the pacas, but they are slender, running animals, in 
appearance not unlike a small, hornless deer. The common 
species is reddish. There is a black one farther up the Ta- 
pajos, besides the little cotiudia^ which is often kept for a 
pet. All the species live on fruits and roots ; they make 
burrows in the ground as other rodents do, and are alto- 
gether plebeian and uninteresting. The flesh is eaten, but it 
is much inferior to that of the paca. 

Rambling of a morning about one of the clearings, we 
find a sloth f crawling over the ground; a most unusual cir- 
cumstance, for the creatures hardly ever leave their forest 
branches. It is not a handsome animal : a mass of coarse 
gray hair ; sharp, hooked claws, and a little round bullet- 
head, something like a monkey's, if you can imagine a mon- 
key-idiot. Your sloth is a thorough vegetable. He hangs 
himself on a branch by his pedal hooks, and in this upside- 
down repose he lives, or exists, all his days in a dead calm 
between eating and sleeping. He seeks another branch 

"■ Dasyprocta, sp. van \ Probably Bradypus tridactylus. 



when he must to find new food, but a snail's locomotion, 
or a turtle's, is rapid in comparison. This one on the ground 
is entirely out of place. He sprawls this way and that, 
stretches one leg forward, very, very slowly, hooks a stick 
and drags himself up to it ; sinks exhausted after the mighty 
effort; stops to take a nap, may be, before he begins again. 
His utmost speed can hardly be more than five or six yards 
an hour. I can suppose, though, that he would move faster 
among the branches, \yhere his normal inversion is not dis- 
turbed. Whatever brought him to the open ground is a 
mystery. All the sloths, I believe, live by preference on the 
cecropia leaves ; bicJio da inibaitba^ beast of the cecropia- 
tree, the Indians call them, and a lazy person sometimes 
catches the name. People eat the sloths when they can get 
nothing better; but the tigers must dislike them for some 
reason, or else they are protected by their hanging position 
on slender branches.* Their only defensive weapons are the 
sharp claws, with which they can give an unpleasant dig : 
you would hardly say a blow. If you strike one, he will 
turn his stupid head around slowly, with a sleepy kind of 
expostulation, and then turn it back again and subside into 
repose. The sloths must have very tenacious lives ; often it 
takes three or four charges of buckshot to make them quit 
their hold on the branches, and it is noticeable that they 
hardly bleed ; the circulation is as sluggish as the muscular 

Our first collecting trips are rather disappointing. One 
looks for large and handsome species under the equator ; but, 
instead of that, the most of our captures are small and in- 
conspicuous. The forest seems bare of life in comparison 

* Wallace says that the harpy eagles often attack them. 


with woods and fields at home ; birds are not common ; ex- 
cept butterflies, you will hardly notice the insects, unless 
you are hunting for them. Only by rare chance one gets a 
glimpse of some larger animal — a deer, a paca, or possibly 
an ocelot. Anacondas and jaguars we do not see at all. 

This paucity of animal life is more apparent than real. 
No doubt there are fewer insects and birds in an acre of this 
forest than in an equal space in a northern grove. But we 
must remember that our groves are only remnants of a con- 
tinuous forest, which once covered all the Atlantic slope ; 
the animals that roamed over square miles are now restricted 
to acres ; the w^oods are crowded with life, as little islands are 
in a flood. Our untouched western and northern provinces 
are as deserted as these of the Amazons. 

Many of our northern animals appear only during a part 
of the year ; birds migrate in winter, insects lie concealed as 
larvai or pupae. In June the whole world seems alive ; but 
in August nine-tenths of the crowd are out of sight. Ani- 
mals come, so to speak, in flocks, and then disappear. But 
under the tropics there is nothing to produce this crowding; 
the birds do not migrate ; insects come, one after another, all 
through the year ; rather more abundantly about the begin- 
ning and end of the dry season, but for the rest the months 
are very evenly balanced. Suppose there are ten thousand 
insects in a given space of ground ; during any one month, 
there may be one or two thousand of these flying about in 
the winged state ; but at the north, seven thousand of the 
ten thousand would be flying in June. 

One more thing we must note in this distribution of ani- 
mal life. Your forest species have not merely a horizontal 
range of so many acres or square miles ; most of them are 
arboreal, have a vertical range also, of ninety or a hundred 

212 BRAZIL. 

feet. Some kinds hardly approach the ground at all ; they 
live on the forest-roof, hiding among the green leaves, or 
flying about in the sunshine. You and I, walking in the 
shade below, will see only stray ones that may have come 
down in some open place. 

If most of the forest insects are rare, the ants and white 
ants are common enough to make up for them. The white 
ants work under shelter, build long passages, and dig tun- 
nels ; their mounds are common along the road, and every 
tree-trunk and branch has its covered way, often ending in a 
great, ball-shaped house. The material for all these works is 
formed in the bodies of the insects themselves : half-digested 
vegetable matter ; the unceasing work of their lives is to de- 
vour dry wood, rubbish, mould, books, clothing, and then 
turn them into passages and dv/ellings. About houses they 
are great pests ; a party of them will riddle the contents of a 
trunk in half a day. 

Of the true ants there are scores of species, each with its 
own customs. The Indians have names for many of them ; 
one black kind, the tocatidera* is an inch and a quarter long. 
We often find the nests of these giants at the foot of some 
sapling ; if we poke the holes with a stick, the ants come out 
buzzing like so many bees and stinging fiercely if they get a 
chance. The wound is almost as painful for the moment as 
that of a scorpion. Foraging ants we see now and then, and 
the strange leaf-carrying CEcodoma — terror of the farmers, for 
it often strips the mandioca-plants of their foliage. Fortu- 
nately, it is not very common about the American planta- 

As the rainy season sets in, our entomologizing trips are 

* Dinaponera grandis. 



more successful ; on some days we bring in two or three hun- 
dred species of beetles, and perhaps as many more of other 

There is a rare delight in this every-day life of a natural- 
ist. In the morning we are up at sunrise, swallow a cup of 
coffee, and hurry off to the dewy woods w'ith our nets and 
collecting-bottles. Along the paths we tread softly ; peer 
under the leaves, search the brush-heaps for wood-eating 
beetles. A palm-tree, recently cut, is full of small species, 
boring into the central pith to suck the sweet juice. From 
a hollow in the stump we fish out great black weevils, f two 
inches long ; take care that they do not clasp your fingers 

* Entomological friends may be interested in the following lists of beetles col- 
lected on different days. The lists are taken verbatim from my note-book: 

December 17th. — Worked about eight I Chrysomelidae. 25 species, 31 specimens. 

hours with the beating-net. 
Cerambycidae. . . i species, i specimen. 

Buprestidas 12 " 14 " 

Scaraboeidae 7 " 13 " 

Lucanidae i " 2 " 

Cicindelidae i " i " 

Carabidae 7 " 7 " 

Elateridee 6 " 6 " 

Coccinellidae 7 " 13 

Lampyridae 10 " 13 " 

Staphylinidae. . . . 4 " 4 " 

Cleridse 2 " 2 " 

Mordellida? 4 " 6 " 

Erotylida; 3 " 9 " 

Chrysomelidae. . .104 " 171 " 

Rhyncophora . . . 75 " 94 " 

Various 31 " 38 " 


Various 45 " 55 

Total 132 " 188 

Almost all of these were large and fine 

January 29th. — Worked mostly along 
the new road. 

32 species, 43 specimens. 


February 3d. — I have noted 41 species, 


• 32 



Buprestidae. . . 


Lampyridae. . , 






Staphylinidae. . 






"^^"^ j 75 specimens, of the beautiful longicorn 

The majority of these were small spe- beetles, all collected in about five hours' 
^'^^- I work, after a rain ; this is the largest num- 

January28th. — Worked along a newly- ber I ever obtained of that family in a sin- 
cut road. Day cloudy, gle day's work. On several days I have 
Cerambycidae.. 23 species, 34 specimens, noted from 80 to 95 species of Rhynco- 
Rhyncophora.. 39 " 68 " phora. 

t Rhyncophora palmarum. 

214 BRAZIL. 

with their hooked legs, or they will give you a pinch to re- 
member. We can find the larva of this palm-weevil in* old 
stumps, — a white grub that bores through the sweet pith. 
Sometimes the Indians eat these or other white grubs, not 
from necessity, but as a luxury, as more civilized epicures 
delight in raw oysters. I never tried the grubs. 

A gorgeous blue MorpJio butterfl}- comes sailing down 
the road ; its wings glance in the sunshine like a mirror. 
Catch it if you can by a clever throw of your net ; but if 
you miss it, do not go racing after it ; ten to one it will 
elude you, and you may trip over a root for your pains. 
The morphos fly in the morning. Later in the day you will 
find them balanced sleepily on low boughs ; you can catch 
them with your fingers if you are still enough. This is 
a common species, hardly worth running after ; there are 
others, Morpho Hecuba for example, that you may not see 
for months together. Hecuba expands eight or nine inches ; 
its wings above are dark, with broad diagonal bands of pale 
blue ; beneath, it is handsomely mottled with rich brown 
and white. All the morphos are marked beneath with sub- 
dued colors, and you will find that this is generally the case 
with forest butterflies. They are bright enough in the air, 
but in repose they sit with the wings folded, and then you 
will hardly notice them among the leaves. 

This is only one instance among a thousand of natural con- 
cealment ; in truth, you do not see a tenth of the life about 
you, because so few of the forms are conspicuous. There 
are interesting exceptions to this rule of coloring among the 
butterflies ; certain quick-flying kinds expose their rich tints 
freely. Some, that sit with the wings extended, have the 
bright colors all beneath ; a common species rests in this 
way on tree-trunks, with its wings flat against the bark ; the 


rnottled upper surface is so like the gray around it, that 
}'OU hardly notice the insect ; but beneath, it is banded 
with bright blue and crimson. 

Here is a felled tree by the roadside. An inexperienced 
collector will search over it in vain ; your trained bug-hunter 
will walk behind him and pick off a score of beetles from the 
bark ; large and beautiful species many of them, — " long- 
icorns " and weevils, with soft brown and gray tints that 
harmonize wonderfully with the surface. They cling to the 
Jower side of the log ; the weevils drop to the ground if you 
approach, but the longicorns sit quite still, with their long 
antennae and legs held close against the body ; even the 
sharpest eyes may pass them over. I have ten years' ex- 
perience now, but I can never be sure that I have picked 
the last beetle from a log ; often, when I am about to leave 
it, the net drawn along the under side will bring half a dozen 
new forms to my collecting bottles. It is curious to see how 
cleverly the forest insects conceal themselves. They hide at 
the bases of leaves, crawl under bark, make masks of sticks 
and rubbish ; the spiders sit in their webs, with legs all 
"drawn together, so that they look like fallen flower-buds or 
seeds ; many make dens by drawing the leaves together. 
Beetles often feed on the under side of a pendent leaf, and 
you will never notice them without peering beneath. 

But the forest itself is the best concealment. It is a vast 
shadow, deepening into blackness, or paled to gray and 
brown, but everywhere with little patches of intense light. 
You may not observe even brilliant colors here, because the 
eye is dazzled by these lights. Scarlet is least subject to 
this rule, from its strong contrast to the green leaves, but 
even a scarlet passion-flower will often escape notice. A 
curious instinct teaches the forest animals to remain per- 

2l6 BRAZIL. 

fectly quiet when they are alarmed, and it is wonderful 
how well they may be concealed in this way. I have often 
searched vainly for a trogon or thrush that had sounded an 
unguarded note ; it might be close by^ and in plain sight but 
for the light-spots around it. 

Every day we find examples of protective resemblances 
and mimetic forms : insects, especially, resemble leaves,, 
sticks, what not; mimic each other, and are thus protected 
from birds and toads. There are plenty of examples about 
Taperinha and Diamantina that are quite as wonderful as 
those described by Wallace and Darwin. 

Here, along the shady forest-roads, are brown butterflies,, 
lighting on the ground or on the lowest branches ; if we ap- 
proach them quietly they turn their bodies so that the head 
is away from us, and the wings, folded over their backs, are 
foreshortened. In this position there is nothing left for the 
eye but a little brown streak, which w^e hardly notice on 
the dark ground. The beautiful Hetairas live also near the 
ground, and have this same habit, but they are better pro- 
tected by their transparent Avings, w^th a single bright spot 
at the angles. They keep to the darkest woods, flying 
feebly among the low herbs ; but it is impossible for the 
eye to follow even such slow movements ; the transparent 
wings give only the impression of a little quiver of sunlight 
through the branches. 

There are green tree-toads sitting on the leaves, and gray 
ones on tree-trunks and lichen-covered rocks ; ugly green 
and gray lizards, too, that we w^ill hardly notice as they sit 
on logs and stumps. Snakes are green, very often ; but in 
these w^oods their most eflectual concealment lies in their 
forms, like vine-stems ; they twist about branches, species 
often as slender as a whip-cord, and no wonder that they 


escape observation when the woods are full of vines, twining 
in precisely the same manner. Our sharp-eyed Indian guide 
may see one of these tree-snakes, and point it out to us ; 
but peer as we will, we cannot distinguish the creature, 
though it may be hardly a yard away. The longitudinal 
stripes of many species aid in this concealment ; the body 
slides away before our eyes, and apparently there is no 
movement at all until the tail slips out of sight. 

In other, and more interesting protective forms, the ani- 
mal resembles some particular object ; a leaf, a bit of bark, 
a stick, and so on. One of the simplest of these imitations, 
but a very effective one, Ave find among certain " longhorn " 
beetles {Lamiidce), long-bodied, cylindrical insects, almost 
ahvays of dull gray or brown colors. Most of them are 
night-flyers ; all day they cling to dried branches, each with 
its legs twisted close around a twig, and its antennai laid 
down by its side. In this position they look very much 
like little short sticks, so that even our sharp entomological 
eyes will often be deceived. Those sharper entomologists, 
the birds, are deceived also ; and so the helpless beetles 
are saved from destruction. Here in the Amazonian forest 
this imitation is especially effective, because a brush-heap 
is certain to have bits of vine-stems still clincrincr to the 
twigs. One lamian that we find has the middle-body and 
the bases of the wing-covers marked with dull green, band- 
ed and roughened to resemble a lichen ; the front of the 
head is concave, and white, with a black spot in the middle, 
precisely like the broken end of a hollow stick ; and the 
hinder end of the body is inclined and rough, like a twig 
broken diagonally. We have been searching over the brush- 
heap for half an hour, while this fellow is clinging to a pro- 
jecting stick ; at length I break off the stick, beetle and all, 


and examine it closely ; but the resemblance to a bit of 
rotten vine-stem is perfect ; the legs twisted about the twig 
are precisely like rootlets, such as you see on many climbers. 
So I am about to throw the stick away, when the beetle is 
foolish enough to move, and so goes into our collecting bot- 
tle after all. 

There is a very elongate lamian that clings to grass-stalks 
in the same manner ; another is light gray and very rough, 
like the excrescences of the rough-barked tree on which it 
lives. One day, I find an assacil tree, of which the large 
blunt spines contain a very poisonous juice. I break off one 
of these spines (it is rather more than half an inch long) and 
carry it home, a five minutes' walk. There we turn it over 
and examine it for some time before we discover that there 
is a gray beetle clinging to it ; it is a flat species, and very 
nearly as long as the spine itself, and precisely like it in 
color ; while it remained still, there was nothing to distinguish 
it from the general surface, and only when my fingers come 
in contact with the beetle's body, I discover that it is alive. 

There are leaf-butterflies here, only less perfect imita- 
tions than the Kallima paralekta, which Mr. Wallace de- 
scribed so graphically ; two or three species of geometrid 
moths also imitate leaves, only in them the outspread wings, 
taken together, represent a small leaf. The upper wings on 
either side are pointed ; a curved mark connects these two 
points across the body of the insect, representing the mid- 
rib, while faint radiating lines indicate the side-veins. 

But we find the most wonderful leaf-imitators among the 
OrtJioptej'a ; grasshoppers, locusts, mantises, even roaches, 
are protected in this way. One large locust, or katydid, 
is so like a terminal leaf-bud just opening, that it would seem 
diflicult to carry the imitation farther. The upper wings are 



<lark, shining green, like a pair of terminal leaves still folded 
together. From the shoulder to near the end of the wing 
a conspicuous vein marks the midrib ; and smaller veins, 
branching and netting, are entirely like the venation of a leaf. 
The lower wings are long, and protrude beyond the others ; 
an unusual feature among them ; they are lighter green, pale 
leaves budding out from between the older ones. The green, 
.slender hind-legs well represent a bent stalk, and the fore-legs 


.and body are the base of a bud. In this case the antennae 
are very fine and inconspicuous.* 

Beating among the bushes one day, we discover a still 
more curious locust. This species closely resembles a half- 
eaten leaf; such an one as you may find on any bush where 
caterpillars and beetles have been feeding. The wings are 
green, broad, and wavy at the sides, like a leaf; the insect, 
as we find it, is resting head down on a twig, and the an- 
tennae, folded together stiffly, take the place of a leaf-stalk. 
The midrib is arranged as in our other locust, but it is pale, 

*I regret that a woodcut gives a very imperfect idea of this insect. It should 
have been represented as sitting on a twig, or branch. 

220 BRAZIL. 

as in a sickly leaf; the venation is plainly shown. On the 
upper part of the wing there is an irregular spot, circum- 
scribed by veins, and brownish yellow in color ; such a spot, 
in fact, as is left by leaf-mining larvae. Variations in the 
color of this spot represent minute fungus-growths with won- 
derful accuracy, and there are other little fungus- dots scat- 
tered about the wing, as you will find them on a half-dried 
leaf. Finally, the ends of the wings are truncated, not 
squarely, but in a scalloped manner, as a leaf is cut off by 
caterpillars ; the hind-legs are brown and shrivelled, looking 
like dried stalks= The more we examine our prize the more 
we marvel at its complete and really microscopical imitation ; 
one would think that a less perfect resemblance would have 
served as well.* 

There are numbers of great ''preying mantises " on the 
branches ; piuiha-mezas, " set-the-tables," by their expres- 
sive Brazilian name. Many of these are leaf-insects also ; 
one in particular resembles a wilted, dried-up bunch of leaves 
in the most curious manner. Its color is pale, yellowish 
brown. The upper wings, instead of being laid flat on the 
back, as in the other mantises, are raised over it, and curi- 
ously twisted and curled ; we think at first that they are 
aborted. They perfectly represent dried, curled-up leaves, 
the midribs very prominent, as if seen from the lower side. 
The hind-body is flat, and from its color will represent an- 
other dried leaf; the head, and broad front legs, are so many 
more in the little bunch. This is a predaceous species, and 
no doubt the resemblance serves to conceal it from its prey 
as well as from its bird-enemies. 

^The.e are several species of the same genus, some resembling green, and 
others dried leaves. By mistake the insect has been represented in the drawing 
with the head uppermost. 



Some of the spiders, we find, are excellent imitators. 
The cylindrical species lie extended in their webs, with the 
•legs stretched out, to look like a stick ; round-bodied kinds 
draw their legs close and look like a leaf-bud, or a ball of 
their own silk entangled in the web. From Miss Muffet's 
lime until now, the spiders frighten people away ; but how- 
shall we notice this one that sits on a leaf, all in a heap ; 
the pink, three-lobed 
body appears just like 
a withered flower that 
might have fallen from 
the tree above; to the 
flies, no doubt, the de- 
ception is increased 
by the strong, sweet 
odor of the spider, 
like jasmine.* 

Mr. Bates long ago 
described the curious 
Heh'conian butterflies 
and their mimics 
among other species. 
There are hundreds of 
such examples; when- 
ever a group of insects is distasteful, for any reason, to the 
birds, there are always other insects that mimic these, and 
are thus protected, because the birds are deceived by their 
appearance, and will not touch them. One day, for example, 
I am watching what I suppose to be a Stizics wasp : a large 
black species, with deep purplish-black wings ; it is running 

* I regret that I cannot give the name of this, and other spiders that I speak of; 
but my collection (nearly six hundred species) has yet to be studied and described. 

Leaf-insect. 2. 

222 BRAZIL. 

about among the grass-tufts, moving its antennae rapidly, as- 
is the fashion with these wasps, and I am curious to see what 
it will do. After awhile 1 discover that my supposed wasp 
is a grasshopper ; a most remarkable one, indeed, for I never 
saw such a color before in a grasshopper ; and the fussy 
movements are utterly unlike the slow sidlings of Orthoptera,. 
or their quick leaps. 

In the woods we are often attacked by swarms of little- 
Melipoua bees ; they have no sting, but each one grasps hold, 
of a hair, and pulls with all his might. They have a very- 
strong, unpleasant odor, which probably makes them dis- 
tasteful to birds ; hence, they have no use for a sting. The- 
meliponas are little, hairy insects, always daubed over with 
honey, or with some excretion, so that they have a very 
peculiar appearance. Two species, a black and a yellow one, 
are very common ; both of these, and several less commoni 
kinds, are mimicked by little *Monghorn" beetles, species of 
CJiaris. The form of the mimic is like that of the bee, and: 
utterly unlike what we are accustomed to among the long- 
horns, or any other beetles ; the wing-covers are short, so as- 
to expose the membranous wings ; the body is hairy, and 
even the tufted hind-legs of the bee are found also in the 
beetle. But what is still more singular, the sticky appear- 
ance of the bee is imitated by the beetle in a peculiar ar- 
rangement of white and dark hairs, and smooth surfaces that 
look moist at a little distance. 

In the United States there are a few rare spiders that 
mimic ants. Here at Taperinha we find a good score of 
species of these spiders, aping the various kinds of ants very 
closely; even the odd, spiny wood-ant, Cryptocerits, furnishes, 
a pattern, and there are spiders that mimic the wingless ich- 
neumons. We find, after awhile, that the spiders prey on 


ants, just as our spiders catch flies ; indeed, this fact has al- 
ready been noted by other observers. 

But we go a step beyond the books, when we discover 
not only that the spiders eat the ants, but that they eat the 
particular ants which they mimic. At all events, we verify 
this fact in a great number of cases, and we never find the 
spiders eating any but the mimicked species. 

I do not like to hazard a theory on this case of mimicry. 
It is difficult to suppose that the quick-witted ants would be 
deceived, even by so close a resemblance ; and in any case it 
would seem that the spiders do not require such a disguise to 
capture slow-moving ants. Most birds will not eat ants ; it 
seems likely, therefore, that this is simply another example 
of protection ;■ the spider deceives its enemies, not its prey; 
it mimics the particular species that it feeds on, because it is 
seen in that company when it is hunting, and among a host 
of similar forms it is likely to pass unnoticed. 

In certain insects we observe a curious feature that may 
indicate another form of protection. A good many beetles,, 
we find, are formed and colored so that the hinder end of the 
body is almost a counterpart of the head-end ; or, in some 
cases, the insect is apparently reversed, and the head seems 
to be the tail. These cases are especially marked among the 
cylindrical species, Lamiidce, etc. Again, a number of the 
handsome " longhorn " beetles are remarkable for tufts of 
hairs, which the different kinds bear on their antennae. We 
find two or three species, however, whose antennae are plain, 
but there are similar hair-tufts on the hind-legs. Mr. Bates 
noticed these forms, and commented on their singularity. 
"It suggests curious reflections," he writes, ''when we see 
an ornament like the feather of a grenadier's cap, situated on 
one part of the body in one species, and on a totally different 

2 24 


part in nearly allied ones." The effect of this change in the 
position of the ornaments is to invert the insect in appear- 
ance. The species that have these tufts behind are remark- 
able for their very long hind-legs ; and these, held straight 
behind them, appear very much like antennae. 

Small moths [Pyralidce, Toitricidce, Tinceidce^ sit on 
leaves, with their wings folded over their backs. In this 

Longicorn Beetles.* 

position, many of the species resemble sticks, moss, bird- 
droppings, etc. ; other kinds appear inverted, like the beetles. 
Certain narrow-winged kinds, when at rest, are very much 
longer than broad ; and some of these have a singular habit 

*The specimens are represented as somewhat magnified ; they would be more 
propeily represented on a log or tree, as they are very rarely seen upon thei 


of spinning about on the leaf when alarmed, moving the body 
rapidly around the head as a pivot. One genus that has this 
habit, is marked by a bright red head ; but one or two of 
the species have the head plain, and red spots on the ends 
of their wings — i. c, on the ends of their tails as they sit on 
the leaf; these species spin about their tails instead of their 

All these cases point to one supposition. The insects, for 
some reason, derive an advantage from apparent inversion 
of the two extremities of the body. Now, in collecting, we 
often find that these inverted species escape us. We have 
learned to make allow^ances for the insect's flight when we 
throw our net over it ; we always aim to throw a little in 
front of the head ; but with the inverted species we are de- 
ceived, and throw a little behind the tail, when the insect im- 
mediately flies aw^ay. 

I can suppose that the birds are deceived, just as we are ; 
that they pick a little behind the insect's tail instead of a little 
in front of its head ; and hence, that the species is protected 
by its inversion of coloring. However, I may be wrong ; 
these phenomena must be more carefully studied before we 
can reason much on them. Of one thing, however, we may 
be certain : the inversion is not a mere useless whim of na- 
ture. IMore and more we are coming to see that no form, 
7io coloring, no pattern of sculpture is meaningless or useless. 
Much as we may admire the beautiful tints and ornamentation 
and plumage, we do not yet know their full value ; they are 
not simply a beauty of nature ; they are features of that 
deeper beauty, the great unfolding scheme of life. 



FIRST we must have a canoe. There are scores along 
the beach, but they belong to fishermen or merchants, 
who do not care to let them ; this one is too small, and that 
too large, and another is leaky ; only after a day of disap- 
pointments we find a craft that suits us entirely. It is made 
of itauba wood in the ordinary canoe pattern ; the bottom all 
of one piece, turned up at the ends, and the sides strength- 
ened with a board all around. The length is about sixteen 
feet; rather more than a third of this, in the stern, is occupied 
by the Httle arched cabin of palm-leaf mats. The owner, 
Ricardo, promises to see that the hull is freshly calked and 
tarred ; he proposes to go as steersman, so we have one man 
secured. My servant, Pedro, will do for another ; we pick 
up an Indian, Joaquim, at the Aldeia, and, to complete the 
crew, a queer character who is lounging about the town, an 
English sailor or miner, or Jack-of-all-trades, named Dunn. 
Slabs of dried fish and a basket of farinha are stowed under 
the tolda, with sugar and coffee, and sundry boxes of biscuits 
and cans of preserves for our own use ; these, with our 
trunks and the men's bundles, fill the little space completely. 
At the last moment one of the men comes down with a great 
basket of oranges and bananas, which are stowed in the bow 
with our less perishable luggage. 



''Adeosf shouts Ricardo ; Dunn sees a mulatto beauty 
on the beach and flings back a last sarcasm. The two In- 
dians take their paddles with smiles on their dull, good-na- 
tured faces ; and so we push off into the bright water. It is 
four o'clock ; Santarem is just waking from its afternoon nap, 
and there is a subdued bustle about the streets and shore. 
Looking away from the white walls and beach, the opposite 
shore is in strong contrast ; green varzea meadows, with 
clumps of trees at the water's edge. No houses are visible in 

Trie Embarkation. 

this direction. Cattle are pastured on the meadows, but 
they are out of sight behind the bushes ; we see only the 
rich lights and shadows, stretching down to the Amazons. 

The Tapajos, opposite Santarem, is rather less than three- 
fourths of a mile wide, but it is very deep ; no less than one 
hundred and thirty feet in some places. There is very little 
current : it seems more a lake than a river, with the clear 
water and the wide reaches above. Here and there, the sur- 

228 BRAZIL. 

face is marked with green streaks, millions of little particles. 
These particles poison the water in the dry season, and make 
it unfit for drinking. Probably they are confervoid growths 
that accumulate in pools above the rapids. 

There is a smart breeze from the east. Ricardo has the 
sail- up directly, and our little craft dashes along gloriously 
over the ripples. In fifteen minutes we have run past the 
Point of Mapiri,* conspicuous for its lime-works. Now we 
lose sight of Santarem, and the river begins to widen out : 
the bay of Mapiri on one side, and the great Enseada das 
Araras, Macaw Gulf, on the other, make a stretch probably 
seven miles across ; but it is narrower above. Southward 
lie the blue hills of Diamantina and Panema, and the out- 
standing, bare, conical Scrra de Intra, a beautiful picture. 
Serra dc Pancvia is the extreme northwestern point of the 
highlands, and it divides two little water-sheds, clear streams, 
uniting to form the Igarape de Mapiri on the north, and the 
Igaripc-assu (Big Creek) on the south. Both of these empty 
into the bay of Mapiri ; beyond their mouths, picturesque 
white clay-cliffs stretch to the Ponta de Maria e Jose, the 
farther limit of the bay. The near ground has that peculiar, 
gray, semi-forest tint of the sandy campos which lie just 
around Santarem ; but all the highlands beyond are rich 
with forest. Dunn fancies that he can distinguish one or 
two cane-fields of the Americans, but he may well be mis- 

Past white cliffs, and past sand-beaches and rocks beyond. 
On the northern side a great point of lowland stretches to- 
ward us, and here the little Fiiro de ArapicJmna is always 

* Otherwise Ponta de Sale. The lime-works, owned by Sr. Souza, of Santarem, 
are quite important. Limestone is brought down theTapajos in barges, and burned 
here. * 



emptying yellow water into the clear Tapajos. The Ara- 
pichuna is an Amazonian channel : all the lowland on that 
side is built up of Amazonian mud, for the Tapajos has 
nothing to build with ; its water carries no sediment at all. 
The yellow river is still encroaching on the clear one, through 
this Furo de Arapichuna, which has built the point, and is 
lengthening it every day ; Enseada das Araras is simply a 
bay, left at the side of this mud-point, and in time, no doubt, 
the growth of the point will leave it a lake, with varzea 

Camp on the Tapajos. 

meadow'S on either side. For the rest, all this lowland lies 
directly across the real channel of the Tapajos, which runs 
north and south ; by and by we shall have occasion to 
compare it with similar formations at the mouths of other 

We are following the highland shore, which begins to 
swing around to the southward. Every little point and bay 
has its sonorous Tupi name ; I hope that Brazilians may 
have the good taste to retain them, instead of putting saints' 

230 BRAZIL. 

names and theological phrases in their place. All the In- 
dian designations were formed naturally. Let us suppose, 
for example, that some fisherman wished to direct his com- 
panions to a certain point or bay ; there was no acknowl- 
edged name, so he pointed out the locality by some feature 
that distinguished it, or some event that had happened there. 
" That point where we saw the alligator yesterday," or, as he 
would put it, '* The point of the alligator." Next day, or the 
week after, some one is telling the story of their adventures. 
He appeals to his companions. ''This happened on such a 
day ; you remember : when we were encamped at the Alliga- 
tor Point — Ponta do Jacarc :'' using the same designation, 
because it has been used once before. In course of time the 
name is adopted by general consent, without any special 
baptism. So with other places : a black water-stream comes 
to be the Igarapc'-pichiuia ; a toad-shaped rock gives its name 
to a point — ^'Poiita dc Ciiriirii ;'' and so on. Even at this 
day you will notice the formation of these names. ** Look," 
says Joaquim, *' canoe on the shore ! " ''Where ? " asks one. 
"Why there, don't you see? On that beach of the javary 
palms — Praia das Javary s ;'^ and the place is known at 
once. If any marked event takes place here, we shall talk 
all through the voyage of the Javary sand-beach, and the 
name may go down for a thousand years, long after the 
javarys have disappeared. 

Away to the westward, the land is only a dark line, with 
the sun sinking behind it ; fleecy clouds above catch the 
glow for a moment, and then gray twiHght settles down over 
the water : the short, tropical twilight, that warns us to seek 
a camping-place for the night. We run the canoe aground 
on a long sand-bank ; the men bring dry wood from the for- 
est near by, and presently we have a bright fire, over which 


our coffee simmers delightfully. Meanwhile, poles have 
been set to support our hammocks, and the men have found 
beds in the sand. The wind is strong, and the waves are 
beating monotonously, but the canoe is dragged up safe be- 
yond their reach ; listening to them we sink to sleep ; all 
night long our hammocks are swaying, and the waves are 
washing, and clear stars are shining overhead, for the east 
wind brings no rain. Noche clara y serena. 

The morning is magnificent ; waves are rolling white by 
this time, and the air almost sparkles. We bathe in this 
fresh-water surf; then, while the men are preparing coffee 
again, we stroll up and down the sand and pick up numbers 
of shells — young Unios and Anodoiitas. In a pool near by 
there are great river-snails, Ampiillarias, and everywhere 
on the pebbles we find fresh-water sponges. Little painted 
sand-frogs hop about here by thousands, and there are num- 
bers of peculiar insects — tiger-beetles, and flies, and wasps ; 
we could entomologize for days. Here, too, we see the 
handsome y<^r<^'* palm, for the first time; a moderate-sized 
species, with slender stem and graceful, drooping leaves. 
Exploring farther, we find a little lake, not more than half a 
mile across, all shut in with steep slopes, except where this 
bank separates it from the river. A tiny stream flows down 
over the sand and clay, with cascades here and there ; per- 
haps the whole fall may be twenty feet. Lago da Agua Preta 
— Black-water Lake — the men call it; the water is dark green, 
very clear and deep, reflecting the forest-clad hills about it, 
and the carana and javary palms ; it is as unlike the shallow 
varzea lakes as the Tapajos is unhke the Amazons. Lago 
de Tapary is like this one, a true terra-firma lake. Ricardo 

* Leopoldina pulchra. 



says that pirarucus are found in both, but the water is too 

deep for successful fishing. 

The waves are roUing so high that we can hardly push the 

canoe out ; we 
run off before 
the wind at ra- 
cing speed, and 
heel over fright- 
fully under our 
great sail. Ri- 
cardosits stead- 
ily in the bow, 
steering with a 
paddle; the 
other men stand 
ready to drop 
the sail at a mo- 
ment's notice. 
We run gallant- 
ly along the pic- 
turesque shore, 
watching the 
white clay-cliffs 
and sandstone 
>'^P^'"^- rock here and 

there,* and the fringing sand-beaches below ; not a house or 

a sail in sight, and the river always widening. Rounding the 

* I may as well state here that all these Lower Tapajos rocks, and as far up as 
Aveiros at least, are soft sandstones and clays ; all that we know of their position is 
contained in the cautious remark of Prof. Hartt : "Not a trace of fossil remains 
has, as yet, been found in these beds, so that their exact age cannot be determined, 
but they are certainly not older than the Tertiary." Report of a Reconnoissance of 
the Lower Tapajos : Bulletin Cornell University (Science), vol. i., No. i. 


rocky Ponta de Ctct-arit, we are fairly in the main north and 
south course ; it is only at its mouth that the Tapajos is nar- 
rowed by Amazonian varzea, and forced into a great bend to 
the east. 

Now you see what a magnificent channel this is. The 
western shore is terra firme like this, but it appears only as 
a blue ridge, eight or nine miles away ; * to the south there is 
a great open horizon like the sea. Northward, the great bay 
of Villa Franca gives another clear horizon. This bay is 
properly the mouth of the river Arapiiiiis, which has its ori- 
gin in the hilly, densely wooded lands between the Tapajos 
and the Maues. "After forming some rapids, it descends to 
the plains ; receives one affluent from the south, and another 
from the west ; turns east-northeast to the point of Curupa, 
where it is already five hundred metres wide. Thence it 
flows twenty miles to the bay of Villa Franca, its width one 
to one and a half miles, and the beautiful white sand-beaches 
contrasting with the dark blue of its water ; half-wooded cam- 
pos on the right, and low, wet lands on the left, very much 
like those of the bay." t The bay itself takes its name from 
a pretty little village on the western side of the river, where 
the land is high and free from fevers. Beyond lies the great 
lake of Villa Franca, celebrated for its pirarucu fisheries and 
for the cattle fazendas along its shores. 

The river water is wonderfully clear ; just by the rocky 
shore it is very deep — forty fathoms, says Ricardo. A lit- 

* Nearly ten miles just above. The measurements given by Tavares (O Rio 
Tapajos, p. 7) are as follows: At the mouth, 1,700 metres; from Tapary (our first 
camp) to Villa Franca, 12,964 metres; opposite Alter do Chao (the greatest width), 
14,816 metres; at Boim, 7,408 metres; at Pinhel, 11,100 metres; at Aveiros, 3,204 
metres; at Cury, 6,232 metres; and at Itaituba, 3,204 metres. Most of these fig- 
ures, I fancy, are merely approximations. 

t D. S. Ferreira Penna : A. Regiao Occidental da Provincia do Para, p. 167. 

234 BRAZIL. 

tie farther on there is a great sand-bank, stretching a mile 
into the river. The steamboat channel is comparatively nar- 
row off this sand-bank ; beyond, there are dangerous shal- 
lows, as there are in many other parts of the Lower Tapajos. 
For our part, we do not fear the shallows, but with wind 
from the north our clumsy little canoe will not weather the 
sand-bank, and we run plump against it. The men jump 
out and drag us around through the shallow water, tugging 
at a long rope and enjoying the fun ; this brings us into the 
pretty bay oi Alter do Chdo, Earth-altar; the bay, and a lit- 
tle settlement, take their name from a strange, wedge-shaped 
clay hill that stands all alone in the campo near by. We 
paddle across to the village, where there is a little clear creek 
running over the sand. The canoe is pushed into this, with 
some difficulty, owing to the swift current ; and we walk 
up to the settlement. A more dilapidated place you will 
not find in the province. The thirty or forty palm-thatched 
houses are arranged irregularly about glaring sandy streets ; 
one tile-covered building and a half-ruined church are the 
best structures that the village affords. The people — Indians 
and half-breeds mostly — seem half-starved and wholly lazy. 
There are, it is said, four hundred and thirty inhabitants.* 
A little tobacco and mandioca are planted on the rich land 
farther back ; but the place is noted for the perennial hunger 
that reigns in it. The fisheries along these rocky shores are 
by no means good. ** When we arrived in port," says Mr. 
Bates, '* our canoe was crowded with the half-naked villagers 
— men, women, and children, who came to beg each a piece 
of salt pirarucu, 'for the love of God.' They are not quite 

* According to Tavares (1876); Barboza Rodriguez (1875) gives 593; and Fer- 
reira Penna(i869) allows but 138, including those in the immediate vicinity. Among 
these conflicting authorities, I am at a loss to give an opinion. 


SO badly off in the dry season. The shallow lakes and bays 
then contain plenty of fish, and the boys and women go out 
at night to spear them by torchlight." 

We carry our letter of introduction to the village school- 
master, who volunteers to go with us to the wedge-shaped 
Alter do Chao, or Serra Piroca* as the Indians say. The 
path, after crossing the igarape, lies over sandy campo, much 
like that of Santarem ; but the trees look fresher, and there is 
much green grass. The serra is quite as steep as it looks to 
be ; we scramble up the sides, clinging to grass-tufts and fern- 
stalks, for there are no trees ; the top is a ridge about three 
feet wide, and, with the sweeping wind, we are much inclined 
to hold on to whatever is near. But the view is worth the 
trouble. Tapajds spreads gleaming to the blue shores of 
Villa Franca ; beyond, we can just distinguish some distant 
hills, far off by Lago Grande. The bay and the sand-beaches 
are below us on one side ; on the other are sandy campos, 
stretching to the picturesque wooded slopes beyond, and a 
lovely, clear-water lake, half hidden among the hills. We 
could gaze for hours, but our time is limited, so we only stop 
for one or two hasty sketches ; noting that our aneroid marks 
ninety metres above the river, and eighty above the campo. 
We notice many curious trap-door spiders about the top. 
Notwithstanding the steepness of the hill, we can distinguish 
very little of the geological structure. f We pick up some 
curious hard iron-stone nodules about the base of the hill ; 
round, hollow, and filled with white sand ; we have seen 
something similar at the Serra de Irura, near Santarem. We 
have only time now to visit the lake, which is close by the 
village, emptying into the Tapajos by the little rapid creek 

* Tupi: "bald." t See Hartt : op. cit., p. 2>S- 

236 BRAZIL. 

where our canoe is lying ; the water is wonderfully clear, 
without a trace of the green confervoid particles that we see 
in the Tapajos. From the serra we noted how the lake 
divides into two long arms, each of which receives a little 
stream ; the general surface may be one or two feet above 
that of the Tapajos. This lake is not as deep as the Lago de 
Agua Preta, which we visited this morning, but it greatly re- 
sembles it otherwise. Clearly, all these terra-firme lakes are 
simply the valleys of little side streams that have been filled 
in with water. This one of Alter do Chao shows it plainly; 
the lake forks above, and each fork receives a stream ; but 
draw out the lake water and there would simply be a forked 
stream flowing into the Tapajos. Remember that the river 
rises at least thirty feet every year, and at this time it brings 
down considerable quantities of sand. The little stream 
brings down sand also ; in time a bar is formed across its 
mouth. This bar is covered during the highest floods, but it 
is twenty feet or more above the river at low water, thus 
forming a dam, over which the lake water flows in a little 
swift stream, as at Alter do Chao, or a series of cascades, as 
at Lago de Agua Preta. 

The bay of Alter do Chao has its history. It must have 
been here that Pedro Texeira found the principal Tapajos 
village : 

*' Leaving the Amazons, he entered the Tapajos for twelve leagues, 
until he came to a harbor of crystalline waters, with beautiful groves 
forming a canopy around ; a delightful place, where he found the new 
tribe already advised of his visit by his friends, the Tapuyusus. How- 
ever, remembering always the inconstancy of fortune, he disembarked 
in the immediate vicinity of the village, and fortified himself with all 
good order and military discipline ; but when he was satisfied of their 
fidelity, he met them with more confidence, and found them less barba- 
rous than their neighbors ; he heard, also, probable reports that the 


tribe was due to the commerce of the CastiHan Indies, from which they 
had retired. He remained here some days with friendly intercourse, 
and after purchasing some handsome mats and other curiosities, re- 
turned to Para, justly pleased with his discoveries, but with very few 
slaves ; for the Tapajdses esteem these in such sort that they will rarely 
part with them/' * 

Afterwards, the mission village oi Borary was formed here ; 
some say Piierary,\ because certain polished stone beads or 
ornaments, called muirakitans, were found in the lake. The 
place must have risen to some importance, for in 1758 it was 
constituted a village ; but in 1841 it was reduced to the cate- 
gory of a settlement, where it is likely to remain. Besides the 
proverbial laziness of the people, the fire-ants :j; are doing their 
best to depopulate the place. Generally^ these ants are found 
about sandy and weedy streets, and near water ; loamy and 
forest ground is free from them. The species is rather less 
than a quarjier of an inch long, but the pain caused by^ its 
sting is out of all proportion to the size of the insect. 

Our schoolmaster friend is a good deal surprised when 
we say^ '* adeos'^ to him ; he — Brazilian fashion — would have 
rested for the day after such a tramp. But we are off down the 
igarape and on the river, where the breeze is strong yet, com- 
ing in puffs that do their best to upset us. Rounding a point, 
we lose sight of Alter do Chao and so sail on until night, 
when the wind dies out and our men push on with the pad- 
dles. We go into camp finally, at a place called Aramanahy : 
a narrow sand-beach, with steep hillsides beyond. There 
are three or four houses here, palm-thatched like those of 
Alter do Chao. One or two of the men stroll down to our 
boat curiously ; they offer us a shelter for the night, but we 

* Berredo: Annaes Historicos do Estado do Maranhno, 2d ed., p. 240. 
t Puerd, a bead, v^, water. % Myrmica sa^vissima. 

238 BRAZIL. 

prefer to sleep on the beach. After supper, however, we 
return their visit ; the people here are farmers in a small 
way, and commendably industrious ; we find them all, men, 
women and children, busily at work by the dim light of one 
or two tin lamps. They are preparing tobacco, cutting out 
the midrib and twisting the leaves into long rolls. The Tapa- 
jos tobacco is considered the finest in the Amazons valley. 
It is cultivated on the rich black lands along the edge of these 
bluffs, where the Indians had their villages long ago. In the 
morning we climb the hill to inspect one of these village sites, 
but find only a few fragments of pottery. In other places 
there is abundant harvest for the archeologist. All along 
this side of the Tapajos, from Alter do Chao to the lower 
rapids, the bluffs must have been lined with these villages,* 
for the black land is almost continuous, and at many points 
pottery and stone implements cover the ground like shells on 
a surf-washed beach. This black land is near the river ; back 
in the forest, so far as we know, there is only yellow loam 
and clay, without a trace of ancient occupation. 

The forest covers all this high land, a plateau, continuous 
with the hills of Panema and Diamantina. All day we sail 
by bluffs like those of Aramanahy, almost a straight line, 
perfectly flat on top, and some three hundred feet above the 
river. Here and there the hillside is washed away, leaving 
picturesque white cliffs, or glens where little streams flow 
into the Tapajos ; on the western side, also, we can distin- 
guish white clay banks, but the land there is lower and more 
irregular; it is six or seven miles away yet. Up and down 
the river the horizon is clear, and the wind sweeps up gayly, 
with white-capped waves and showers of spray over our 

* On the other side there is also black land with pottery, but I know nothing of its 


tolda ; we are obliged to lower sail now and then, to keep 
the canoe from capsizing ; well for us that it is so heavily 
laden. We eat our breakfast in the boat, and smoke fra- 
grant cigarettes, and set the men to telling stories, as they will 
on long voyages. Ricardo, who is familiar with the river, 
points out places of interest on the shores. On the western 
side there is Boim, ancient mission village of Santo Ignacio, 
with a curious history of changes. 

*' This village was anciently situated, in the year 1669, near the river 
Amazons, and on high land ; but because of the many mosquitoes the 
Fathers changed it to a lake near by. The first village was founded by 
Father Antonio de Fonseca ; he or his successors built a convent, so 
beautiful and well formed that its goodness was the bane of many In- 
dians and priests, who came to live here, and died because of the malig- 
nity of the air ; therefore, in 1737, the whole village was removed to the 
Tapaj(5s, where it now is."* 

The original proselytes, it is said, were Tupinambas ; but, 
at this day, the tribes are so mingled that it is impossible to 
tell one from the other. Boim is a little larger, and a shade 
less dilapidated, than Alter do Chao ; we can faintly distin- 
guish some of the houses near the water's edge. 

In the afternoon we pass by two or three little creeks, f 
with stretches of lowland about their mouths, recalling the 
Amazonian varzeas behind us. Near our camping-place 
{Andira) there is a single house, but the people are fuddling 
with mandioca beer, and we do not care to disturb them. 
We cook some fish that the men have caught, and eat with 
such an appetite as one gets in the open air ; the ruddy 
firelight flickers over tree-trnnks and branches on the bank 
above, and casts long shadows across the sands ; there are 

* Moraes : Historia da Companhia de Jesus. 

t Igarape Paquiatiiba, Igarape Pini, Igarape Jaiiary. 

240 BRAZIL. 

no torturing mosquitoes in this region, and we sleep in 
peace, lulled by the waves and the sighing wind. 

We are off again by daylight, running always by pictur- 
esque low hills, with beautiful glens and fringing sands below, 
and white cliffs contrasting curiously with the forest.* We 
stop to cook breakfast under one of these cliffs, by a clear, 
cold water stream from the hills ; a charming spot, where the 
little white sand-beach is all overhung with bushes and vines, 
and the cliff itself is half-covered with their curtains. We 
bathe in the bright waters ; then ramble along the shore, find- 
ing rich treasures of insect and bird life, and beautiful, soft 
ferns. Wading about in the shallows, we collect numbers of 
river-shells, half a dozen different species ; we must feel for 
them in the mud and sand with our bare feet, and then dive 
for them, if the water is deep. The men declare that the bi- 
valves are eaten, but they do not use these, so I fancy that 
they are not much esteemed. 

The river is narrower now, hardly five miles wide, and a 
little above, the channel is divided by low islands, with grass 
or trees ; varzea, in fact, much like that of the Amazons, 
but largely made up of sand instead of clay and mud. On 
the western side a great space is covered with this low land, 
so that the main channel is hardly over a mile wide. We 
have left the lake -like expanse of the Lower Tapajos, and 
are entering the region below the falls, where the river is 
filling the channel with sediment. 

Toward nicrht we reach the little village of Aveiros, on 

* These cliffs are formed of friable sandstones, and some of them present curious 
instances of oblique lamination, as at Pennacova, where the succession is as follows, 
beginning below: i. Purple sandstone, horizontal. 2. Similar to i, laminae in- 
clined S. at about 30°. 3. Purple clay, not laminated. 4. Yellow sandstone, lami- 
ncE dipping N. , 25"'. 5. Clay, decomposed. 


a high bank above the river. It is a picturesque place, the 
more so, I suppose, because the streets arc neglected, and 
the little church is falling to pieces, and the houses have a 
general air of decay. Yet in its time, when trade from the 
upper rivers centered here, Aveiros was a place of importance. 
Of its subsequent history you may judge by a few passages 
from various authors. Bates, who was here in 1852, writes: 

" Aveiros may be called the headquarters of the fire-ant. The place 
was deserted a few years before my visit on account of this little tor- 
mentor, and the inhabitants had only recently returned to their houses, 
thinking its numbers had decreased. The soil of the whole village is 
undermined by them ; the ground is perforated with the entrances to their 
subterranean galleries ; the houses are overrun with them ; they dispute 
every fragment of food with the inhabitants, and destroy clothing for 
the sake of the starch. They seem to attack persons out of pure malice ; 
if we stood for a few moments in the streets, even at a distance from 
their nests, we were sure to be overrun and severely punished, for the 
moment an ant touched the flesh, he secured him.self with his jaws, 
doubled his tail and stung with all his might. When we were seated in 
chairs in the evening, in front of the house, to enjoy a chat with our 
neighbors, we had stools to support our feet, the legs of which, as well as 
those of the chair, were well anointed with bitter copaiiba balsam." 

Sr. Penna's description, in 1868, is still more graphic, 
with a touch of sarcasm : 

'^Aveiro. — This setdement is situated on the right bank of the Ta- 
pajos, in. a very beautiful and pleasant place, but without inhabitants 
because of the formigas de fogo. A primary school has been created 
here by law, but no one has profited by it, because no one lives here." 

After these warnings, we are a little afraid to enter Avei- 
ros at all, but on venturing up the steep pathway we are 
agreeably surprised to find so few of the ants. They are 

indeed plentiful enough, and as pugnacious as ever, but the 

242 BRAZIL. 

numbers are not a tenth of what they were. There are 
people enough here to form a respectable village, as things 
go on the Tapajos ; the exact number of inhabitants I know 
not, nor would it be worth while to record, for within ten 
years the place may be depopulated again by the terrible 
pests. Aveiros people laugh now when you speak of fire- 
ants. "Oh! those were in the past; there are none here 

The village schoolmaster (there is one now, and a school) 
invites us to sleep at his house ; we accept his hospitality, 
not without longing regrets for the breezy shore ; he walks 
about the village with us, where we find some clever and 
good-natured people, Indian and white. 

After that, our hammocks are swung in our host's sitting- 
room, and we sleep without molestation from the ants. In 
the morning we are off across the river to the Indian village 
of Santa Cruz ; Mundurucu Indians, it is said, but they are 
not tattooed like those farther up the river, and except for 
their being taller and stronger, we might take them for 
Tapuios, like Pedro and Joaquim. They have been celebrat- 
ing some festival, and two or three of the young men come 
down to meet us, decidedly drunk ; yet, for the most part, 
these Indians are sober enough. We go to visit the TucJidita 
(chief), and find him sitting in his hammock, from which he 
rises politely to greet us. He may be sixty years old, but 
his form is hardly bent. He talks of his friendship for the 
whites, and regrets the decadence of his village ; altogether, 
proves to be a very sensible old man. His wife, dressed only 
with a petticoat, stands behind him meekly, and takes no 
part in the conversation. 

All through this part of the river, the islands and sand- 
banks occupy a great part of the original channel, which, 


besides, is narrower than below ; not more than four miles at 
the utmost, from highland to highland. Not far from here, 
the important little river Cupary enters from the eastern side. 
Mr. Bates, who ascended the Cupary in 185 1, gives us an 
excellent account of it. Along its lower course it is no more 
than one hundred yards wide, but very deep ; no bottom 
with eight fathoms, and the high banks gloriously wooded. 
At the lower falls, the channel is forty yards wide ; here there 
are villages of the Mundurucu Indians, and Mr. Bates found 
them chasing after the wandering Pararauate tribe, which 
had been marauding in the vicinity. One often hears of 
these wild tribes along the Tapajos. Near our camping-place, 
at Mojigubaly we visit a house, where the owner shows us two 
curious arrows. They were obtained about sixty miles above 
here, at the falls of the Tapajos, and there is a bloody little 
history attached to them. Some weeks before, wild Indians 
(said to be Parentintins ; but the nomenclature of these 
wandering tribes is hopelessly confused) attacked a settler's 
family and killed one of the women ; but they were driven 
off before they could do more harm. These arrows were 
picked up at the house after this attack. They are of ex- 
quisite workmanship ; the head of bone, wound on tightly 
with some kind of thread ; the feathering of beautiful macaw- 
plumes. Yet these wild tribes have not a single iron tool to 
work with. We hint our desire to buy the arrows, but our 
host at once presents them to us, and will hear of no remu- 

This man at Mongubal is an Indian, almost pure-blooded 
it would seem, but for a wonder he is engaged in manu- 

* I regret to say that these arrows were lost, else I would describe them more 
carefully and give a drawing. I never saw finer workmanship on any savage 

244 BRAZIL. 

facturing bricks and shipping them to Itaituba ; the place 
shows many signs of thrift. Besides the arrows, he gives 
us two beautiful diorite axe-heads from the black land near 
by ; finally, he invites us to an excellent breakfast, with 
beef from his own herd, and vegetables from his farm. The 
two or three other farmers at this place are engaged in 
tobacco-raising. They are industrious people and good- 
natured, and we leave them with regret. 

The river is still narrowed by islands, sometimes rocky, 
oftener low varzea, with great sand-banks gleaming whitely 
over the dark waters. The main channel is seldom more than 
two miles across, and not very deep ; the wide reaches below 
were still like a lake, but here there is a very perceptible 
current — in the wet season a swift one, and then the islands 
and sand-banks are covered. We miss the steady wind of 
the lower river ; often our men have to paddle for hours, 
and the breeze, when it does come, is in dangerous puffs. In 
the afternoon we are overtaken by a heavy storm. Ricardo 
sees it and gets the sail down in time, but our little canoe 
rocks and tosses about alarmingly, and torrents of rain drench 
us all to the skin. After this burst, the clouds keep up a 
steady drizzle until night. Wet and tired, we seek shelter at 
a solitary house, but the negro occupant declares that his 
master is absent, and he cannot let us sleep here. This looks 
inhospitable, with the rain increasing, and the wet beach 
without a tree to swing our hammocks from. We expostu- 
late, and at length obtain permission to occupy a muddy 
kitchen back of the house ; so we pass the night uncomfort- 
ably enough, and are not sorry to leave in the morning. 
Servants, left in charge of houses, are always afraid to enter- 
tain travellers ; this is almost the only exception to the rule 
of country hospitality. 


There are no more of the white clay-diffs along this part 
of the river. We have passed from these comparatively 
modern formations to old rocks — Carboniferous, and perhaps 
Devonian, with black diorite here and there. At Ipapichuna 
there are limestone cliffs, where we find many poorly pre- 
served fossils, and, in one thin layer, very good ones : Pro- 
diicti and Streptoi'JiyncJii, all washed out by the action of the 
water, and just attached to the lower surfaces of great slabs. 
We break up a number of these ; our men get interested in 
the work, though they do not understand it at all, and when 
we have obtained all that we can from the shore they go 
diving after other slabs in the clear water below, where we 
would never have noticed them.* 

It takes us half a day to collect and pack our fossils, the 
drizzling rain still falling, and Ave thoroughly wet. However, 
the sun comes out gayly at noon, and we push on, stopping 
now and then to examine rocks along shore ; the channel 
less than a mile wide, but there are smaller ones beyond the 
islands. Toward night a fine breeze comes up, and so we 
dash across to ItaitiLba, term of our voyage. We are nearly 
a hundred and fifty miles from Santarem.f 

A long row of whitewashed and tile-covered houses, with 
a pebbly beach in front, and the dark forest behind ; the set- 
ting sun tinges the land with mellow crimson, and glows on 
the rippling water. So Nature seems at peace, and you for- 
get that Itaituba owes its origin to bloody war. During the 
rebellion of the Cabanaes, in 1835, the place was used as a 

* The fossils are similar to those of Itaituba, described by Profs. Hartt and 
Derby. See their reports : Bulletin Cornell University (Science), vol. i. No. i. 

+ 233 kilometres, according to Tavares, who is probably the best authority j 
Chandless makes it 176 miles, and Barboza Rodriguez gives 2,1 Brazilian leagues, 
which would correspond to 128 English miles, nearly. 

246 BRAZIL. 

rendezvous of loyal citizens and Mundurucu Indians ; from 
a temporary camp it became a fixed settlement ; and in 1856 
it received a village charter. The municipality includes all 
the Tapajos region above this point, to the confines of Matto 
Grosso : a sufficiently extended territory, containing, proba- 
bly, ten or fifteen thousand inhabitants,"^ besides wandering 
Indian tribes. Only a few hundred of these are whites ; the 
rest are largely Mundurucu and Maue Indians, only par- 
tially civilized. Itaituba itself is composed of some fifty 
houses, f the half of them very well made of adobe or 
brick, and forming this line fronting the river ; the rest are 
palm-thatched huts. The village, and all this part of the 
Tapajos, are unhealthy at times ; in the dry season the water 
is really poisonous, though it is as clear and bright as 
crystal ; intermittent fevers are prevalent during the rains. 

At Itaituba we pass ten days pleasantly, exploring the 
vicinity for fossils, and getting acquainted in the village 
itself Of the score of white families here, the most are 
engaged in trade ; there are seven well- filled shops, and 
ten or twelve trading canoes are sent out from time to 
time ; of course, very little of their custom depends on 
the village itself. The canoes make voyages far up among 
the rapids of the Tapajos, bartering for rubber and drugs 
with the Mundurucus. Sometimes parties come down from 
these upper settlements to trade at the villages ; large, 
stout-looking Indians, the older men and women often tat- 
tooed with black about the face and body, in a kind of lat- 

" 7.873 by the census of 1872 ; but very little reliance can be placed on this. Sr. 
Penna (1868) calculates 30,000 souls. 

t Barboza Rodriguez says 37, and immediately after he gives the population of the 
place (following the census, no doubt) at 1,573 persons. This, probably, includes 
the vicinity for miles around. The village itself has about 200 inhabitants. 


tice-work pattern. Some of them speak Portuguese very 
well ; others understand only the universal lingua geraly or 
their own Mundurucu dialect. The merchants speak in 
high praise of these Indians ; they are honest and faithful, 
the firm friends of the whites, and the most industrious 
people on the river. We hear quite another story of the 
Maues tribe. ^^ Basta iwuic,'' says one ; ** viciu r'" (Maue) : 
"The name is enough: he's bad." So they are bad, dirty 
and dishonest, and lazy to the last degree ; yet this tribe 
seems to be an offshoot of the Mundurucus, disinherited, we 
may suppose, because of its irredeemable shiftlessness.* At 
present, the two tribes are inveterate enemies, and often at 
war with each other. 

Life at Itaituba is as free and unceremonious as possible. 
We hardly ever see a black coat ; of an evening the men 
sit in front of their houses in their shirt-sleeves, smoking, 
and enjoying the cool air, as we have seen at Santarem. 
Then, and sometimes at night, they play at cards, always for 
money, and frequently the stakes are pretty high. Every- 
body gambles here, from the Indians and negroes to the 
thriving merchants. Groups form in the stores during the 
day ; after dinner the men stroll about, playing with this ac- 
quaintance or that ; we see a lady of good family sitting at 
her window, and playing with a gentleman in the street, 
while her husband, near by, is playing with somebody else. 
A tall mulatto — professional gambler and known blackleg 
— is fleecing all the young clerks ; if we start on an early 
canoe-excursion, we see lights still shining in his windows, 
where he has been playing all night. '•' Do you play?" he 
asks. ** No ? That is the greatest mistake in your character. 

* This is the tradition ; but the languages are quite distinct. Both are allied to 
the Tupi. 

248 BRAZIL. 

Now let me teach you one little game." But happily we are 
proof against his blandishments, and our money remains in 
our pockets. It must be said of the Itaitubans that their 
gambling is good-natured. With them it is "quick come, 
quick go ; " they make money easily by their trading, and 
spend it easily in this way. We remark that the place has 
no church, though there has been one in course of construc- 
tion for some years ; possibly a good priest might weed out 
this vice, but in general the priests gamble quite as readily 
as their parishioners. An irreverent acquaintance of mine 
spent all of one Sunday afternoon, behind a village church, 
playing cards with the priest, for a vintein the game ! 

The beach at Itaituba is strewn with fragments of lime- 
stone, and not a few well-preserved fossils ; in great bowlders 
lying near we get other fossils, but by dint of much pound- 
ing with the sledge, for the rock is abominably hard. The 
"banks farther down are fringed with beautiful open woods ; 
back of the village these woods extend for a little distance 
inland, and thence there are campos, with scattered trees of 
three or four species, extending northward and westward 
some miles, to the high forest beyond. All along the Lower 
Tapajos you will find occasional small tracts of campo, either 
sandy, like that of Santarem and Alter do Chao, or stony, or 
argillaceous, like this at Itaituba. Generally, these campos 
occupy ground near the level of the river ; they may be 
looked upon as fragments of the great campifias far above 
the falls, and the still more extensive open lands of Central 

We make one excursion above the village to the little 
Igarapc Bom Jar dim. The mouth of the igarape is about 
two miles from Itaituba, and on the same side of the river ; 
it is a sluggish creek, with unwholesome water, stained black 


with vegetable matter. A little way up, there is a lime-kiln, 
and extensive quarries have been made, whence the rock is 
shipped to Santarem. Still farther on, the creek is winding 
and narrow, with limestone ledges here and there, and little 
caves, where, during the floods, the softer layers have been 
dissolved away. Crawling into one of these caves, we pick 
up a few delicate silicified fossils on the ground, and pres- 
ently discover that the roof above is studded with them, all 
washed out cleanly, and just attached to the rock, so that 
they are ready to drop at the slightest jar. There is a shout 
at this ; but we are almost afraid to touch the beautiful 
things ; slender spines and processes are as perfect as they 
were when the shells were buried in calcareous mud.* We 
gather hundreds of them here and in the other caves ; fine, 
large Proditcti and Spirifers, and little StropJialosice all cov- 
ered with hair-like spines, and numbers of other species that 
must be studied with care, for many of them are new to sci- 
ence. The igarape itself is by no means a pleasant stream ; 
the waters smell strongly of sulphuretted hydrogen, and they 
swarm with great alligators. We try to push beyond the 
caves, but come to a cul-dc-sac in a swamp. Along the 
Tapajos above here there are great cliffs of the limestone, 
conspicuous for miles up and down. The Brazilians call 
these cliffs Parcddo^ Great Wall ; we find no caves, and 
no silicified fossils, but one layer contains numbers of little 
spiral shells, MurcJiisonicB and Pleurotoniarice ^ of which we 
gather great numbers. 

'* I describe the caves as they were when Mr. Staunton and I discovered them in 
1870 ; since then the locahty has been pretty thoroughly exhausted by three Ameri- 
can expeditions, and a Brazihan one (Barboza Rodriguez). Mr. Derby described 
these shells (Coal Measure), and showed great skill in dissolving the limestone with 
acid, so as to expose the most minute interior structures. Mr. Chandless found 
similar caves on the Maue-assu. 

250 BRAZIL. 

Itaituba is at the head of steamboat navigation. Twenty 
miles above here, the water is foaming over rocks at the 
Maranhdo-zinho ; above that there are other and greater 
falls and rapids, a long series, with intervals of still water, to 
the sources of the Tapajos in the rivers Arinos and Juruana, 
between lats. 14° and 15° S.* Here also the Rio de la Plata 
takes its source. The maps will have it that there is a chain 
of mountains forming the divide, but in truth there is only 
an elevated plain, " a taholeiro or cJiapada,^^ says Chandless, 
** hardly varying in its general elevation, but cut through 
deeply by the rivers. Near these there is more or less virgin 
forest; all the rest is campo, pasture-lands more or less 
densely sown with trees. The chapada is cut down steeply, 
sometimes precipitately, the plain below appearing like a sea, 
with bays and deep creeks. At the foot of the chapada, in 
one of these bays, is the village of Diamantina." The Para- 
guay flows from the sides of the chapada, ten or twelve miles 
southwest of Diamantina ; and the Rio Preto, affluent of the 
Arinos, is ten miles to the eastward of the village. But the 
two great rivers approach each other even more closely, as 
Castelnau has recorded : 

" The Fazenda do Estivado, where we are resting, is situated at one 
of the most curious points on this continent. Here, only a few paces 
apart, spring the fountains of the two greatest rivers in the world, the 
Amazons and the Plata. Some day it will be easy to establish a com- 
munication between them ; for our host tells us that he thinks of con- 
veying the water of one river by a canal to the other, only to water his 
garden. The fountain-head of the Rio Estivado, true trunk of the 
Arinos, is in a hollow of the chapada, where it is inclined to the north, 

* According to R. F. de Almeida Serra, the source of the Juruana is in lat. 14° 
42' 30" S. , and long. 60^ 43' W. G. The village of Diamantina, according to 
Chandless, is in 14° 24' 33" S. lat. and 56° 8' 30" long. W. G. ; the sources of the 
Arinos lie from ten to fifty miles almost directly east of that point. 



two hundred metres east from the house, and in a grove of miriti 
pahns. Eighty-four metres west of the same house appears the source 
of the Tombador, a tributary of the Cuyaba. Near the Fazenda do 
Macu, during floods, the water flows down a valley, and then divides so 
that a portion descends to the Cuyaba and the rest to the Tapajds." 

Through all this series of rapids, canoes can be pushed 
and dragged to the Arinos, and so to the Rio Preto. within 
fourteen miles of Diamantina ; only some high falls must be 

Ascending the Rapids. 

passed by land, pulling the canoe over poles placed across 
the path. In fact, some canoes do make this voyage every 
year ; and they are even dragged by land to the Paraguay, 
whence they can go on to the Plata. Chandless attests this : 

'' From time to time, when the waters are highest, canoes have passed 
over the water-shed ; while I was in Diamantina, one with a cargo of 
fifteen hundred arrobas (thirty-two pounds each), which had come from 
near Santarcm, crossed and descended the Paraguay to \'illa Maria." 

252 BRAZIL. 

Perilous work it is, passing the rapids, wading in the swift 
currents, dragging the boat with long lines and pushing it 
with poles. Barboza Rodriguez's description of the Coata 
cachoeira is worth translating : 

*' At nine o'clock we were in front of the first fall, which appeared to 
me to be insurmountable. Here there was a large canoe, belonging to 
a merchant ; it was unloaded, and fast among the rocks, where it had 
been for eight days washed by the water. Leaving my own canoe in a 
little harbor, I ordered my men to help drag the merchant's out of its 
perilous position, and get it through the rapids. It was on the rocks 
which form the first or great fall of the Coata, near the right bank. 
The two crews worked together, part of them jumping into the water, 
and the others going ahead with long lines of sipo attached to the canoe. 
Accustomed to this kind of work, the Indians paid little heed to the cur- 
rents, bathing and diving now and then, and evidently enjoying them- 
selves. The lines were secured to rocks above ; my pilot took the helm, 
and the men in the water lifted the canoe with all their might, some with 
their backs, others with their hands, while others still were pulling on 
the line. After two hours of terribly hard work, they managed to get 
the boat off the rocks, and it would have been washed down at once, but 
for the line. The men jumped aboard and the line was cast off; they 
shot down with incredible velocity, but obedient to the helm, which my 
pilot handled most dexterously. Crossing the river, they sought a pass- 
age on the other side of the rapids, where, if the current was heavier, 
there were no rocks in the way. Here, as before, long lines were thrown 
out ahead and attached to rocks ; the men, working over their waists in 
the current, dragged and lifted the canoe, and so pushed it along slowly. 
Thus, in half an hour, they had passed the first fall to a little pool above. 
Shouts of joy crowned the passage ; then, dragging on a line, they passed 
the rapids beyond without much difficulty, and the canoe was brought to 
anchor by the sand-beach to which the cargo had been carried. De- 
scending over the rocks, the men pulled my canoe up in the same man- 
ner, but with less difficulty, as it was much smaller." 

The Indians employed in this dangerous work are Mun- 
duruciis, from the villages near the rapids ; sometimes also 


the Maues, but they are less reliable. On the Arinos and 
Upper Tapajos, the Appiacas take their place ; a half-savage 
agricultural tribe, inhabiting the open lands of Matto Grosso. 
The Arinos itself is narrow and has many rapids ; the Rio 
Preto, by which canoes reach Diamantina, is a mere creek, 
often obstructed by fallen trees lying across it. 

If the Munduruciis and Maues are faithful friends to the 
whites, they are none the less savages, carrying on wars 
after their own manner against the hated Parentintins, and 
hardly employing the European dress except near Itaituba. 
As we have seen, there are a few haif-civilized villages be- 
low here, and one or two above. Within the falls region 
there is a mission village, called Bacabal ; it was established 
in 1870 by two Italian Capuchin missionaries, who began 
their work at a little Mundurucu village, baptizing the In- 
dians and training them to agricultural employments ; some 
seven hundred, they say, are gathered at this place, and sev- 
enty children attend the priests' school. All this is sharply 
opposed by the rubber- traders, who get no profit from an 
agricultural community ; they entice the Indians away to 
the rubber-swamps, and incite them against the missiona- 
ries. Perhaps there is another side to the story ; they say 
that the priests are harsh and exacting, turning the labor of 
the parishioners to their own profit, and trading with goods 
which they bring up the river. In 1876 some of the Mundu- 
rucu chiefs went down to Para, to complain to the President 
of these real or supposed wrongs ; very little attention was 
paid to them, and they went back ill-pleased. As they were 
coming up the Tapajos on the steamer, one of them flew 
into a rage and declared that he would die sooner than go 
back to Frei Pelino. His companions tried to pacify him, but 
he, it would seem, was really insane on the subject ; as the 

254 BRAZIL. 

Steamer passed the deep waters below Itaituba, he threw 
himself under the paddle-wheels and was drowned.* 

The missionaries are far away beyond the falls, and we 
have no means of judging of their conduct, whether it be 
good or bad ; it would be unfair to rely on the accounts of 
their sworn enemies. But it is certain that the traders are 
as bad here as they are elsewhere ; beyond the reach of law, 
they can cheat and tyrannize as they please. Some good 
ones there are, merchants in Itaituba, who send canoes above 
the rapids to trade. A little salsaparilla is brought down, and 
there are plenty of other valuable products, but rubber- 
gathering absorbs all labor, as it does everywhere else. The 
trees grow on swampy islands and on the shores ; the Mun- 
duruciis, especially, gather the gum in immense quantities, 
and sell it to the traders, or bring it to Itaituba. The rub- 
ber is taken in exchange for clothes, knives, fish-hooks, etc., 
and money is hardly known above the falls. Of course, the 
Indians are kept in debt to the merchant, and the merchant to 
the exporter ; an inverted pyramid, all resting on the Indian 
workman at the point. The pyramid is nicely balanced ; 
take care, gentlemen, that it does not topple over and leave 
you to support the weight of this poor class, which may 
grow to be a colossus, as it did in 1835. 

The canoes for Diamantina and Cuyaba go loaded with 
guar and, a drug that is much used in the central provinces, f 
It is obtained almost exclusively from the Maue Indians, 
though the other tribes make it in small quantities. The 
guarana-shrub:}; grows wild in the forests between the Ta- 
pajos and the Madeira ; but the Maues cultivate it about 

* I had this from an eye-witness. 

t The Bolivians also receive large quantities by way of the Madeira. 

\ Paulinia sorbilis. 


their houses, on the rich black land, where it bears well in 
three or four years. The fruit is best gathered in Novem- 
ber ; it has an outer shell, containing pulp and seeds, the 
latter in cases of their own. This outer shell is removed, 
and the seeds are washed and dried in the sun ; the inner 
shell is then beaten off, and the seeds are reduced to fine 
powder in a wooden mortar. Water is added, twelve or 
fourteen spoonfuls to a pound of the seeds, and the whole 
is kneaded into a thick dough and formed into long rolls ; 
these are dried in the hot sunshine or over a fire. The cakes 
so formed are very much like chocolate in appearance. 
Sometimes the Indians make them in the forms of differ- 
ent fishes, birds, turtles, etc., or canes ornamented with 
leaves ; the imitations are really very clever, showing more 
artistic skill than these people have credit for. 

In the fruiting season, each person can prepare from one 
hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds of guarana.* 
About seventy-five cents per pound is paid for it in the 
Maues country, and ninety cents at Para ; in Matto Grosso 
it commands a high price. There, and in Bolivia, guarana is 
used as a substitute for tea ; it is grated from the rolls as re- 
quired, and dissolved in cold water. The Indians themselves 
use it in large quantities, as a preventive of fevers. It has 
been introduced into our own materia medica, being em- 
ploj'-ed to especial advantage in headaches and disorders of 
the stomach. It might be used in place of quinine, for inter- 
mittent fevers. 

The Tapajos is about twelve hundred miles long, but its 
size has been greatly overrated ; at the lower falls it is hardly 
half a mile wide, and not very deep. All this broad lower 

Penna* A Regiao Occidental da Provincia do Para, p. 201. 

256 BRAZIL. 

course is, then, simply a lake, through which the river flows ; 
the current is barely perceptible. In the dry season the 
tides are felt even to Itaituba, and Mr. Bates observed them 
on a branch of the Cupary, far above its mouth. The river 
cannot fill up this lake, because it brings down no mud from 
the clean rocks and sand above. The sand does come down 
in pretty large quantities, and it has formed the islands be- 
tween Itaituba and Aveiros. As we descend in the little 
steamboat Inca, the captain points out sand-shallows here 
and there ; the navigable channel zigzags across the lake, 
growing deeper and deeper toward Santarem. It is well for 
us to remember these features of the Tapajos ; we must re- 
turn to the river by and by. 



AT eight o'clock in the evening, we pass from the black 
Tapajos to the clay-stained Amazons : the dividing- 
line plainly visible, even in the pale moonlight. Our Indian 
paddlers pause for a moment, and cross themselves devoutly ; 
looking back, we can just see glinting lights at Santarem ; a 
few low bushes and dark patches of grass mark the junction 
of the two rivers, and there is a shallow extending far be- 
low this point. The night is calm and pleasant, but driving 
clouds across the moon portend a high wind for to-morrow. 
With coats buttoned tightly under our chins, we sit before 
the little thatched cabin, silent, because the scene and the 
time tend to silence ; the men handle their paddles quickly 
but almost noiselessly, keeping us in the middle current. 
After awhile they start a wild melody, half song, half chant ; 
the steersman improvising a line or two, and the others join- 
ing in the chorus, keeping time to the dip of their paddles : 

" Oh ! when shall I come to my own land? " 

sings Joao. He tells of his mother, weeping there for him ; 
of his sister, whose eyes are as bright as stars, whose voice is 
as sweet and sad as the song of the cardchtie : "When shall 
I see you ? " he cries ; '' When shall I come to my own land 

258 BRAZIL. 

and be at rest ? " Then follows the chorus, long drawn, 

moaning : 

'^Leiy lei, lei, cur a lei, Maria lei-u^ * 

The paddles fall in perfect unison, a part of the song and the 

After an hour, we reach the point of Urnbucnacd, where 
two crreat channels of the Amazons unite at the lower end of 
Ilha Grande de Santai^eni. We have been descending the 
southern branch ; here we leave it and begin to ascend the 
northern one, keeping close to the shore now, to take ad- 
vantage of the still water. This north and south channel, 
rather less than the other, is called, for distinction, the Ama- 
zonas de Paj'acary, or sometimes Aniazonas d' Alenqiier , or 
again Uriibticuacd, from the point. The canoemen always 
indicate divisions of the river, but the names are not well 

The moon is hidden and the wind is rising ; thousands of 
mosquitoes gather about the canoe, lighting on our faces, 
fifty at a time, flying into our eyes, mouths, ears, piping de- 
rision at our feeble warfare, though we kill a dozen at a slap. 
We wish that the moon would come back ; that the wind 
would blow a tempest, to sweep them away. The men slap 
their bare feet at every pull, but keep to their work good- 
naturedly. W^e crawl on, slowly enough, with the wind 
almost dead against us, and the current in-shore nearly two 
miles an hour. One is cramped and restless in a canoe, at 
best ; we are tired and sleepy, and the mosquitoes are tortur- 
ing, and the quiet evening is forgotten. So it goes with 

* I give this chorus just as I heard it : a common one among the canoemen. The 
word Maria may indicate its origin in some hymn ; but the words are neither Portu- 
guese nor Tupi, and the men could not translate. 


At two o'clock in the morning, the wind is blowing 
stronger than ever, and we are almost at a standstill. We 
see a house on the shore : deserted dwelling of some cacao- 
planter, who comes here only in the fruiting season. Further 
progress being out of the question, we land, and force open 
the wooden door with some difficulty, scrambling in and 
shutting it as quickly as possible, to bar out the mosquitoes. 
Enough have entered to make us thoroughly uncomfortable 
for the rest of the night, and more are coming through- crevi- 
ces of the palm-thatch above. We grope about in the dark- 
ness, until we find places to tie our hammocks ; then we 
cover our faces and hands, as well as we can, and sleep and 
toss alternately until morning. How we long for the clean 
sand-beaches of the Tapajos, where mosquitoes are almost 
unknown! But, at all events, the Amazons is a healthy 
river, and decidedly the Tapajos is not. 

In the morning the prospect is grand, but most dis- 
couraging. Great, yellow waves are rolling down the river ; 
wind dead ahead still, and blowing a gale. Our canoe, shel- 
tered behind a half-sunken log, is tossing about like a cork ; 
Joao has never left it all night, and it is well that he did not, 
for twice it was near getting adrift. The men positively re- 
fuse to venture out until the wind abates ; so we make the 
best of our situation, and pick up what enjoyment we can 
from the desolate surroundings. We are on a patch of dry 
land, just raised above the low tract behind. An impas- 
sable strip of swampy forest extends along the shore on 
either side. We wander a little way back over the mead- 
ows, but are stopped by muddy pools and thickets of mi- 
mosas and caladiums. So we are reduced to the house and 
the cacao-plantation ; the former is a mere hut, with clay 
walls and rotten palm-leaf thatch ; the orchard contains 



about forty trees, sickly looking, for the place is too low 
for successful planting. On the opposite shore, two or three 
miles away, there are extensive cacodes, and many inhabited 
houses. The whole region, as far as we can see, is low var- 
zea ; this island, on which we are penned (Ilha Grande de 
Santarem), is a triangle, twenty miles long or more, and 
nearly as broad at the base ; two-thirds of the surface is 


broken up by shallow lakes. From the river you see noth- 
ing of this ; there is only a long band of forest skirting the 
shore, and clay banks cut down sharply to the water. 

By noon the wind has abated, and we are off again ; 
crossing now to the opposite side, and following the shore 
of another great varzea-patch, called Tapard. The forest 
extends quite back to the centre of this island ; along the 


raised border there is a continuous line of cacao-orchards, 
with houses here and there, half-buried among the trees. 
After three hours of hard paddling, we reach the end of Ta- 
para, and cross the channel that divides it from the main- 
land ; here at length we find the northern terra hrme, a low, 
rocky point, known as the Barreiras de Paracary. The 
point extends so far into the river that the width of the latter 
is reduced to little more than half a mile ; beyond this again, 
there is a wide reach, where two great channels meet. The 
main river is fifteen miles away, on the other side of Ilha 
Grande de Santarem ; but even this lesser portion must 
crowd hard to get through such a narrow gate. The surface 
boils and seethes, and rushes on like a mill-race. Just oppo- 
site the point there is a sudden deepening of the bed, and 
the water spins down to it in a great whirlpool — terror of 
the canoemen. In the flood-season there would be no pass- 
ing on this side ; then canoes keep close to the opposite 
shore, and even steamboats avoid this dangerous caldeirdo. 
More than one boat has been lost in it ; great cedro logs, 
floating down the current, are whirled under, and only reap- 
pear three or four miles below. But the river is low now, 
and there is little danger if we keep out of the main current ; 
only we have much ado to get around the point with three 
paddlers, so strong is the rush of water. The men tell of 
other caldeiroes* along the river; wherever the channel is 
narrowed and deepened, these whirlpools are formed. There 
are fearful stories connected with them, and many of wonder- 
ful escapes from their ravenous jaws. 

Above the caldeiroes we have one of those river-views 
that give an idea of the grandeur of this water-system. To 

* Great caldrons. A most expressive name. 

262 BRAZIL. 

the south and southeast there are two open horizons, sepa- 
rated by the island of Tapara ; to the west, another great 
reach of sky and water, with half a dozen islands in view ; to 
the north, a broad current, sweeping around the IlJia das 
BarreiraSj and receiving a good-sized river, the Curua, before 
it joins the other channel.* We are in a great bend of the 
Amazonas de Paracary, where it passes around Ilha Grande 
de Santarem ; the northern terra firme forms a corresponding 
bend, but a still stronger one, culminating at this point of the 
Barreiras, where it reaches the river ; to the north of the 
point there is left a great bend of alluvial land, with two or 
three lakes between the terra firme and the Amazons. 

The lakes are hidden by a border-line of forest ; to reach 
them we turn into a narrow igarape, where the branches 
meet overhead in a glorious arch of soft green. The sun is 
low by this time ; we see its lights on the leaves above, but 
the water flows darkly beneath, and the forest on either side 
is all in shade. The igarape is not more than half a mile 
long. Emerging from the forest, we turn first through a 
bright meadow, and then into Lake Paracary ,f where we 
must find our way yet through floating grass-patches, and 
shallows reaching half-way across. The lake extends seven 
or eight miles, north and south ; low terra firme comes down 
to the eastern shore in a gently shelving sand-beach, with 
two little hills beyond. A few palm-thatched houses are scat- 
tered along the beach ; this is the settlement of Paracary, if 
settlement it can be called when the dwellings are often a 

* All this is very confusing in description, but so is it confusing to one who sees 
it for the first time. You get only the idea of an archipelago in a great sea of muddy 

t Named from an herb found here (Peltodons rudicans), reputed a remedy for 
snake-bites and scorpion-stings. 



mile apart. We land, and walk up to one of these houses ; 
the owner, a white man, clad in shirt and drawers, comes to 
meet us at the door, and very cordially invites us to enter 
and lounge in the hammocks while coffee is prepared. We 
explain that we have come to explore the country beyond 
Paracary ; meanwhile we are seeking a shelter for the night. 
On this, our host immediately places his house and self at 

Josh's Family. 

our disposal ; the luggage is ordered up from the canoe, and 
our hammocks are swung in one of the two rooms ; thus, 
without introduction and without a hint of payment, we are 
made welcome to all that the place affords. 

He is a lazy, good-natured, thriftless fellow, this Jose da 
Costa ; living here with an Indian mistress and a flock of 

264 BRAZIL. 

children, who are fed and clothed, God knows how. They 
have their little plantations of mandioca in the forest, five or 
six miles away, and Jose and his son go on fishing excursions 
now and then ; but I fancy that our supper comes from his 
brother's house near by. Never mind ; it will cost him 
nothing, and he is glad in his heart to have a visitor. We 
get bowls of warm, sweetened milk after supper, and a hard 
biscuit that Jose has saved in his trunk ; at sunset the chil- 
dren come for our blessings, and kiss their hands gravely ; 
the older people say ** good-night " all around, and then go 
on talking. *' Light the gentleman's cigarette," commands 
Jose ; one of the little girls takes it from my fingers, and 
lights it at the open fire with two or three whiffs from her 
own pretty mouth. We smoke and chat until nine o'clock, 
or thereabouts ; the doors shut to keep out roving mosquitoes, 
but plenty of fresh air comes in through the thatch. In the 
darkness we can only see Jose's pipe moving back and forth 
as he swings in his hammock. It goes out at length, and we 
go to sleep. 

Nearly all the Paracary people are whites ; farmers in the 
smallest way, or herdsmen with twenty or thirty head of cat- 
tle ; one or two only have more extensive possessions, and do 
a little trading besides. Their hospitality is as unbounded as 
their poverty. " Come in, come in," calls one ; " rest your- 
self in the hammock there ; it is warm walking over the 
sands." So we lounge until coffee is brought to us — the host 
apologizing that he has nothing else to offer. '^ But go, my 
wife ; see if there is not something for the gentlemen." She 
searches the house, and returns presently with a little cala- 
bash of honey. ** Can you eat wild honey ? Go, my daugh- 
ter, bring some mandioca-meal to mix with it." While she 
is gone he tells of a tree that he found in the campo, full of 


little sacks, from which he filled half a dozen great bottles. 
He discourses learnedly of bees ; half a dozen kinds he knows 
that make excellent honey, and others that are less valuable.* 
We can attest to the goodness of this which the daughter 
brings in : little plates neatly set out on a white cloth, with a 
bowl of mandioca-meal by the side. The wife stands by dis- 
consolately. " Now, if we but had some bread for the gentle- 
men ; but come to-morrow, and we can at least give you 
some sweet milk ; you should drink some now, but the cows 
are strayed ; and will you have another cup of coffee before 
you go? Run, Joanna, put the coffee-pot on the fire." And 
so on, and so on, as long as we care to stay. Time has so 
little value here that the people never think of its possible 
value to a stranger. 

There are beautiful walks along the lake shore : a wide, 
sandy slope everywhere, with tufts of short grass and groves 
of javary palms, t pride of every sand-beach ; besides these, a 
few trees that are found only in such situations : spreading 
species, with splendid crowns of thick, dark leaves. Twenty 
yards farther up the slope there is a little belt of forest, fol- 
lowing the curves of the shores and streams that flow into 
the lake. Most of the trees here are like those of the main 
forest, some are campo species, and a few are peculiar. Still 
farther on there is a great tract of sandy campo, precisely 
like that about Santarem, and altogether different from the 
forest ; it is the western end of a long strip of similar land, 
which extends, with slight interruptions, almost to the Atlan- 
tic. Mounted on the little, wiry, gray horses, we could gal- 
lop across to the river Maecuru in three or four hours ; there 
we would have low varzea lands and two or three channels to 

* Various species of Melipona, probably. fAstrocaryum javary. 

266 BRAZIL. 

cross, but beyond, the road is clear to Monte Alegre and 
Prainha. The campos extend only ten or twelve miles in- 
land, at most ; farther north, in the forests, there are other 
open tracts, but unlike these in that they are stony and have 
but few trees. All this northern region, you remember, is 
modified by the Guiana mountains. Even at Paracary their 
influence is felt in the sunny skies and less abundant rains. 

Wandering over the sandy campos, we almost forget that 
we are in the Amazons valley. Here the trees are scattered 
thickly over the surface, or gathered in little clumps, with 
bushes about their roots. They are low and spreading and 
crooked ; rough-barked for the most part, and blackened by 
the yearly fires of the herdsmen. We notice that nearly all 
of them are inclined a little toward the west, probably be- 
cause of the constant east winds. Clumps of short, wiry 
grass grow about the sand : capiin branco (white grass), rabo 
de rapouso (fox-tail), and so on ; but nothing like the rich 
velvet of the lowland meadows. The landscape always re- 
minds me of an old, neglected orchard, where the trees have 
been left unpruned for years, and bushes and weeds have 
sprung up about their roots. 

In the dry season, the branches are thinly leaved and 
dusty, and the grass-tufts have dried up. The sun beats 
down over bare, white sand, until the air quivers with its 
heat, and every half-dried leaf droops on its stem, and the 
scorched land seems given up to desolation. But with the 
first heavy rains of January the trees put on a new mantle of 
soft green ; fresh young grass springs up over the sands ; 
the east wind blows merrily, and the sunlight comes warm 
with life, and the campos are desolate no longer. Then 
the herds are driven up from their lowland pastures, where 
the floods are covering everything ; the herdsmen gallop 


across the plain from morning till night, dodging the tree- 
clumps, stooping to pass under low branches, shouting to 
their spunky little horses, who enjoy the fun as much as they 
do. No wonder that the herdsmen love their glorious, 
roving life, and the clear, healthy air of these campos ! 

The plants here are entirely different from those of the 
forest, and the species are very numerous. There are cajil 
trees,* with bright yellow, pear-shaped fruits, full of a sour, 
refreshing juice. On the end of each one, opposite the stem, 
there is a bean-shaped seed, which serves as a handle while 
you eat the pulp, and which is eaten itself when roasted, tast- 
ing something like a peanut ; but beware how you bite the 
raw bean, for it is full of acrid juice, which is a strong poi- 
son besides. In August and September great numbers of 
the fruits are gathered and made into excellent wine, much 
prized for its medicinal qualities. f There are a few other 
edible fruits on the campos, and some medicinal species ; 
certain trees yield excellent tan-bark, or gums, or resins, but 
only a few are good for timber, and these are too small to be 
of much value. 

We find no palms on the campo, except in rocky places 
and along the campo hills ; there the prQttyjatdX and low 
spreading piiiddba% grow abundantly, with cacti, and sword- 
leaved bromelias ; but for the rest, the vegetation is very 
similar to that of the lower ground. 

Even the animals of the sandy campo are peculiar. Deer 
and jaguars wander out from the forest, but they do not be- 
long here. The campo has its own deer, veado galheiro, \ 

*Anacardium occidentale. The West Indian name, cashew, must come from 
the same Tupi or Carib word. 

t This, and the unfermented juice, are used in Brazil as antisyphilitics. 

X Cyagrus cocoides. § Attalea, sp. | Mazama campestris ? 

268 BRAZIL. 

with branched horns ; whereas the forest species have short, 
straight horns, and belong to another genus. There are no 
monkeys on the campo, no wild hogs, nor pacas, nor cotias, 
nor ant-eaters, nor sloths, nor tapirs ; in the place of all these 
we find only the galheiro deer, and the queer little turtle-like 
armadillos,* which are never found in the forest. We often 
see them running over the sands ; if alarmed, they scamper 
to the nearest hole, or burrow into the ground, disappearing 
in less time than you would imagine. The armadillos are 
eaten, often roasted in the scaly shell, and the flesh is very 
white and delicate ; but the strong, musky odor is an objec- 
tion ; dogs, strange to say, will not touch it. Sometimes 
the young ones are tamed, and they make very amusing 
pets, poking their inquisitive noses into every crevice, and 
running about the house like dogs. There are scores of 
pretty campo birds : paroquets and finches, different, in the 
main, from the forest species ; and we see nothing of the 
toucans, and trogons, and muUins of the woods. The green 
lizards, scuttling across our path, are true campo species ; 
the great black toads and little singing tree-frogs are dis- 
tinct from those we see elsewhere ; and the whole army of 
insects is an army by itself, hardly any of the species like 
those of the thick woods. 

The space occupied by these sandy campos is insignificant 
when compared to the forests around them. The question 
naturally arises : Why are the campos here ? Why should 
such little strips be cut out from the great sea of forest, and 
furnished with a fauna and flora of their own ? On the low- 
land we have seen that the plants and animals often resemble 
those of the highland forest very closely ; they belong to the 

* Priodonta gigas ? Tatusia, sp. var. 


same genera, and we can readily admit that they were pro- 
duced, in course of time, by the adaptation of highland spe- 
cies to the river-plain. We might suppose that the campo 
fauna and flora were produced, in the same way, from those 
of the forest ; but here the differences are too striking to ad- 
mit of such a supposition. Besides, the forest and the campo 
occupy precisely the same sandy ground, with a substratum 
of yellow clay. The campo soil is drier, because it is more 
exposed to the sun ; but there is no difference of level. 
Here at Paracary, and at Santarem, we see the forest ris- 
ing like a wall from the open campo ; the ground is neither 
higher nor lower, and the soil, for a long distance on either 
side of the dividing-line, is precisely the same. Why, then, 
should there be a campo vegetation ? Why does not the 
forest cover all ? 

On the Tapajos we saw how the strips of campo-land 
were continued southward, and might be looked upon as 
fragments of the great campiiias of the upper river, and the 
still more extensive plains of Central Brazil. In fact, cam- 
pos very much like these occupy an immense region in the 
provinces of Ceara, Piauhy, Pernambuco, Bahia, and west- 
ward into Goyaz and Matto Grosso. There are the same 
plants, or closely allied species : cajtlSy and broad-leaved 
mafuds, and so on ; the same animals : armadillos, and deer 
with branched horns, and paroquets, and lizards, and in- 
sects ; and this on a soil which differs more from that of the 
Amazonian campo, than the latter does from the forest. 

The sandy campos are isolated strips, generally near the 
rivers. We could imagine that the Tapajos tracts were pro- 
duced from seeds, floated dow^n from Matto Grosso ; but that 
theory would not account for these tracts on the northern 
shore of the Amazons. And besides, we can hardly suppose 

2/0 BRAZIL. 

that the stunted campo trees would drive out the thick, lux- 
uriant forest-growth. We are, then, driven to one conclu- 
sion. The campos are the remnants of an older fauna and 
flora, which once covered all this region of the Lower Ama- 
zons, and extended southward to the open plains of Piauhy 
and Goyaz. Gradually the forest advanced from the w^est 
and north, encroaching on this ground, blotting it out en- 
tirely in most places ; the lower lands, near the rivers, were 
last covered, because they were drier and more sandy, and 
thus better able to resist the forest ; but it is extending over 
them also ; very slowly, because the forest-trees will only 
germinate in the shade ; the hot campo speedily kills them. 
In low places, by streams and along the river-shore, the 
forest often gets a footing, and from these points it spreads 
back to the other advancing host. 

Just as, with islands long separated from a continent, the 
species have undergone a general change : so here on the 
Amazonian campo, we must look for distinct species from 
those of the southern plains ; but they will often be closely 
aUied, true representative forms. It is certain that there are 
such forms, but they must be carefully studied and compared 
before we can generalize on them. Besides, it is natural to 
suppose that some of the campo-trees were derived from 
those of the forest, and there are, indeed, a few campo spe- 
cies which have close representatives in the woods ; but this 
does not affect the general theory at all. I give it as it has 
forced itself upon my own mind ; if a better explanation can 
be found, so much the worse for my theory, for it must go 
under as fifty other theories have done. 

These campos of Paracary are unfit for cultivation ; * the 

* The annual burning of the grass makes them worse, and no doubt retards the 
advance of the forest. 


forest to the north is httle better along its edge ; only two or 
three miles within the line the soil has a sufficient admixture 
of leaf-mould for mandioca and corn, and in some places 
there is rich black land, with ancient pottery like that along 
the Tapajos and at Taperinha. Jose's mandioca-plantation 
is at one of these black-land localities, six miles from the 
lake-shore ; and thither the whole family goes one morning, 
we riding with Jose in a great, clumsy, wooden- wheeled ox- 
cart, the squeaking of which may be heard a mile away. 
The children have gone ahead in another cart, and its music 
is dying away in the distance. We linger behind, alight- 
ing now and then to examine the campo trees, or chase after 
some beetle or butterfly. At this season we cannot find 
many insects here ; later, during the rains, there are many 
beautiful species, though they are never so abundant as in the 
forest. Our finest prize to-day is a large cetonian beetle, all 
glittering with metallic blue and gold ; we have seen nothing 
like him in the forest, but he has cousins on the southern 
plains. Now and then we see an immense black wasp flying 
over the sand, and smaller species with prettily colored wings, 
purple and white. Jose calls them cacadores* hunters, and 
they merit the name, for they are always peering and hunting 
after spiders, wherewith their nests are provisioned. Perhaps 
some of them carry ofl" the great My gales, whose holes are 
abundant in many places : hairy species, with bodies two 
inches long, and legs spreading over five or six inches. 
Some of the little spiders are much more interesting than 
these giants ; one that we find, is not much bigger than a 
pin's head, but its nest is quite a wonder of insect architec- 
ture. It has only three lines in a forked twig ; two of these 

* Generally large Pompilidas. 

2/2 BRAZIL. 

are used to strengthen the third line, on which are three 
Httle balls ; the upper and lower balls are bits of rubbish, 
wound with silk ; the middle one is a hollow cone, attached 
by the apex, and with a hinged door forming the base ; our 
spider sits inside of the cone and holds the door closed. The 
whole arrangement appears simply like stray threads of silk 
and rubbish, such as you will find about any bush ; no doubt 
the unwary flies see nothing more in it, and so fall a prey to 
their concealed enemy. 

Three or four miles of this campo-road brings us to the 
forest. It is not as high and matted as that of Panema and 
Taperinha, but there is enough to arch over the road, eighty 
feet above our heads, and we can hardly see twenty yards 
among the tree-trunks on either side. There are plenty of 
wild animals here ; we find jaguar-tracks following the road 
for a long distance, and Jose points out places where they 
show plainly over the tracks of the cart which precedes us ; 
the jaguar must have passed within half an hour. Perhaps 
our creaking wheels frightened him away ; at any rate, we see 
nothing of him, nor of any other animal larger than a cotia ; in 
an hour we reach the little settlement of Terrapreta — a dozen 
thatched huts, with clearings here and there, and a great, 
swampy grass-plot in the centre. We turn off to Jose's farm- 
house; rather a better one than the others. The children, ar- 
rived an hour before, come for our blessings ; the tired oxen 
are turned out to graze, and we sit down to our breakfast of 
fish and mandioca-meal, spread on a mat in lieu of a table. 

The black land in this vicinity gives excellent crops of 
mandioca and corn, and a little sugar-cane ; but the farmers 
have a most uncompromising enemy in the saiiba ants.* 

* CEcodoma cephalotes. 


We have seen these at Para and Santarem, — large, reddish- 
brown ants, forever walking in lines through the forest, each 
one with a fragment of leaf in its jaws. What they use the 
leaves for, is a question. Mr. Bates supposes that they 
thatch their houses with them, and very likely he is right. 
Be that as it may, the ants very commonly choose the leaves 
of cultivated plants ; they will strip a mandioca-bush, or even 
an orange tree, in a day or two : workers in the branches 
clipping off fragments half an inch square, and dropping 
them down to their fellows below, who seize them and march 
off in files often an eighth of a mile long, presenting a most 
singular appearance ; you hardly see the ants at all under 
their loads. Where the saiibas are numerous, they are ter- 
rible pests ; Jose complains that his mandioca field is half 
spoiled, and the others around are as bad. In many places 
we find ta/^erel? * thrown here and there to protect 
the plantations ; the ants are said to take their leaves in pref- 
erence to those of the mandioca. These Saubas are wonder- 
ful engineers ; everywhere we find their roads through the 
forest and about the clearings ; tracks two inches broad, 
quite free from leaves and sticks, and keeping a generally 
straight course, often for half a mile or more. They all lead 
at length to the central dwelling or village, where the red 
substratum has been mined away and brought to the surface, 
forming mounds two or three feet high and often fifty feet 
across. Besides these overground roads, there are tunnels 
leading from the hill ; how far it is impossible to say, but 
Mr. Bates records this : 

" In the Botanic Gardens at Para, an enterprising French gardener 
tried all he could think of to extirpate the saiibas. With this object he 

* Spondias, sp. 

274 BRAZIL. 

made fires over some of the main entrances to their colonies, and blew 
the fumes of sulphur down the galleries by means of bellows. I saw 
the smoke issue from a great number of outlets, one of which was sev- 
enty yards distant from the place where the bellows were used." * 

The farmers sometimes bury dead fish or other offensive 
matter in their nests ; and this, it is said, will drive them 
away. In Southern Brazil, certain drugs are used in the 
same manner. 

One day, after a rain, we find the winged females of the 
saiiba issuing from their nests by thousands : fat-bodied in- 
sects, as large as a hornet, and not unlike a red wasp in ap- 
pearance. Now the birds hold high festival ; toads and 
lizards and monkeys are on the alert ; and the helpless saii- 
bas fall an easy prey to their greedy enemies. Jose's Indian 
woman is out with a calabash-jug, gathering them by hand- 
fuls. In half an hour she is back, and the calabash goes 
over the fire, until the ants are killed and slightly roasted ; 
then she stirs the mass well, to shake off the wings, adds a 
little salt, and smilingly places a bowl of roast saiibas before 
us. Well, it is a dish worth tasting, you may be sure. You 
take the ants delicately by their heads, and bite off the fat 
bodies ; they taste a little like shrimps, but are far superior, 
to my thinking. Why not ? We eat oysters, and lobsters, 
and turtles ; for aught I know, we may eat sea-anemones 
and caterpillars some day. It is merely a matter of educa- 

Besides the saiiba, there are other insect pests at Terra- 
preta. While we are geologizing on the little campos,f 

* Naturalist on the Amazons, p. 14. 

+ These are not sandy campos, but stony tracts in the woods, where trees cannot 



near by, a minute black bee- flies in swarms about our 
faces, crawling into our nostrils and eyes, and fairly driving 
us from our work by its fussing, though it does not sting. 

Thatch-palm on Ihe Campo at Terra-preta. 

If we rest in the house during the hot hours, we are tortured 
by the vioUica fly,t 3. large, bronzed species, which lights 
on us everywhere, and runs in its lancet-like beak. The 
houses, also, are overrun by brown wasps, which are peace- 
able enough, it is true, if one can avoid stumbling against 
their nests. Jose attacks them, now and then, with a long 
pole, but it does little good. One half-ruined house, near 
by, is filled with the nests, so that hardly a square inch is left 
uncovered, and the wasps fly in and out like a swarm of bees. 
Happily, none of these pests disturb us after sunset ; then 
the great, open kitchen-shed is cleared, and the three large 
stones that form the fireplace are piled over with dry wood, 

Melipona, sp. 

+ Hadrus lepidotus. 

2/6 BRAZIL. 

to give a strong blaze ; Jose takes his wire-stringed guitar, 
and some neighbor comes in with a fiddle, and the young 
people improvise a rustic dance, Jose's two pretty daughters 
taking part very gracefully, though they are barefooted and 
dressed in calico. Songs and stories fill out the evening ; a 
bit of sociable country life that we shall see very often in our 

From Terra-preta we explore the country to the north, 
where there are little lakes communicating with the river 
Maecuru. There is nothing remarkable about the lakes, 
which are much like those of *the Amazonian varzea ; only 
these are more secluded, with w^oods all around, and rocky 
terra firme coming down to the shore. The flood-plain of 
the Maecuru forms long, crooked projections, wherever a 
stream flows in from the sides ; and along the course of 
these streams the lakes lie, here and there. The most of 
them cannot be reached from the river, for the outlets are 
through impassable thickets and grass patches. The fisher- 
men have little narrow paths through the w^oods, leading to 
Lake Turara, and one or two others ; but they rarely trav- 
erse them. 

We pick up geological notes very slowly, as one must do 
in a forest country ; with these, and our insect collections, 
and some stone axes and pottery from the black land, we 
are content to leave Terra-preta, riding back with Jose on 
his ox-cart. On a moonlight evening we pass over the cam- 
po, and Jose sings ballads and tells stories until we wish that 
the road were twice as long. 

Paracary is one of a whole system of lakes that lie close 
against this northern terra firme, sometimes almost surround- 
ed by it, and communicating with each other, or with the 
Amazons, by crooked little igarapes. At this season, the 


current In these igarapes is almost always from the Ama- 
zons, although the lakes themselves receive water through 
numerous small streams. I suppose that the evaporation, 
over such large surfaces of shallow water, is enough to com- 
pensate for the inflow. Lake Paracary, the largest of the 
series, is only five or six feet deep in the dry season ; but 
there are at least fifteen square miles of water-surface in- 
cluded in it ; with the hot suns and constant rains, the evap- 
oration here must be very great. 

Lake Curicaca lies a little to the northeast of Paracary, 
and the meadows between can be passed in canoes during 
the floods ; but the waters are low yet, so we set out to walk 
the six or eight miles from Jose's house, along the lake- 
shores. Here and there, where streams come in, there are 
deep inlets barring our way, but we always find some fisher- 
man to set us across in his canoe ; for the rest, it is right 
pleasant, walking over the clean sands, by groves of javary 
palms and beautiful shore woods. The white herons^ are 
gathered in flocks about the shallows ; pretty little marc'ca 
ducksf swim over the lake in great bands, or waddle tamely 
on the shore, always in files like soldiers ; now and then we 
see a clumsy capibara wading through the grass patches and 
hardly noticing us as we pass. The water sparkles brightly, 
and the grass waves, and the palm-trees are rustling over- 
head ; so joy and health live by the lakes. Do you wonder 
that the poor people love them ? Here is Bernardo, whose 
riches are comprised in his little thatched hut, and a wooden 
canoe, and a tiny plantation back in the forest. Well, he 
might find more fertile land elsewhere ; there are saiibas here 
that strip his mandioca field ; his live stock consists of a few 

* Ardea candidissima. t Anas autumnalis. 

278 BRAZIL. 

chickens and half a dozen sorry sheep, with the wool hung 
on in scanty bunches, as is the fashion with their kind under 
the Equator. But Bernardo is happy, and hospitable, too, 
in his poverty ; he will not hear of our leaving his house 
until we have eaten dinner with him ; so one of the chickens 
is killed, and, while it is cooking, we lounge in the clean 
hammocks, amusing ourselves with the plump, four-year-old 
little girl, who comes to us quite readily, but goes away 
again directly to put on a tattered dress over her brown skin. 
When we came, she had nothing on but a pretty necklace 
made of wild beans ; I am admiring this, when the child, at 
her father's order, takes it off willingly and puts it into my 
hand. It happens that I have some blue and red glass beads 
in my pack, and I fill the little one's hands with these ; she, 
who has never possessed such a treasure, knows not what to 
do, between her Indian nature that would keep silent, and 
the white, that Avould burst forth in laughter and talk ; as it 
is, she hugs the beads close, and looks in my face with a 
heavenly smile, and so goes away to enjoy her happiness in 
the corner. Five cents' worth of beads : ten dollars' worth 
of happiness ; more, for Bernardo and his Indian wife are 
pleased, as well as the child ; she exhausts her simple art on 
our dinner, and he volunteers to walk on with us, three miles 
yet, to show the path.* 

Lake Curicacaf is little more than a mile long, and half as 

* Poor Bernardo ! Six months afterward, when I was in Santarem, some one 
came to me with a scrawled paper, begging charity for a dying man, " for the love 
of God." I went with the petitioner to a little, half-ruined house, where I found 
Bernardo's Indian wife, and the child staring fearfully with her great eyes at a form 
on the ground ; a still form, with a white cloth thrown over it, and two little candles 
burning near ; all that was left of my old host. He was taken sick at Paracary, and 
had come here to be confessed, and so died just before I came to the house. 

t Curicaca, a bird. Ibis melanopis. 


wide ; at the northern end it receives a little sluggish stream, 
or rather a row of pools, passing through a long stretch of 
varzea meadow. The meadow is a bay of lowland, reaching 
two miles or more into the terra firme ; we might call it the 
flood-plain of the stream itself, but it is a mile wide toward 
the lake, while the stream is hardly five yards across. All 
along the northern shore we shall find these varzea bays, 
wherever a stream flows down ; consequently, the dividing- 
line between the varzea and terra firme is extremely irregu- 
lar ; in some places, indeed, this irregularity is so great that 
peninsulas of the highland stretch far into the meadows, and 
are even cut off entirely. These forms are not without a 
theoretical significance, as we shall see by and by ; practi- 
cally, the varzea bays form excellent pastures, and along the 
shores the poor people have built their houses, within easy 
range of their fishing places on the lakes, and yet near their 
highland plantations of mandioca. 

The settlement of Curicaca consists of some twenty 
thatched houses, scattered along either side of the varzea bay. 
There are no sandy campos, as at Paracary ; the forest edge 
marks the limit of highest water during the floods^ and the 
houses are built just within it. Generally, they are hidden 
from the lake and the meadow. Except for the cattle, the 
landscape is what it has been for a thousand years past, and 
what it will be, perhaps a thousand years hence. The Indian 
people in the houses are hardly more changed ; they speak 
Portuguese instead of Tupi, and their brown skins are cov- 
ered with coarse clothes ; but the customs, implements, man- 
ner of living, character even, are almost the same as those of 
their wild ancestors. 

Graciano, our host, is a young fellow who settled here 
five or six years ago, and is living as the Indians do, satisfied 

280 BRAZIL. 

with his day's supply of fish and mandioca, and taking small 
heed for the morrow. He has a pretty young wife, and a 
six-year-old little girl ; the wife cooks his meals, digs man- 
dioca roots from the clearing half a mile away, and prepares 
farinha from them ; in short, takes all the labors of the 
house and field. He fishes, or hunts, or makes a new clear- 
ing when it is required ; works a little for the traders, now 
and then ; rarely goes twenty miles from Curicaca, and does 
not seek to better his lot, which, after all, is the happiest for 
an Indian. His hospitality is willing, but not excessive ; he 
considers our presence an honor to his house, but leaves to 
us the question of payment, which a white man, in most 
cases, would refuse altogether. There is only one room in 
the house ; the best corners are assigned to us, and the best 
mats are spread down under our hammocks. Graciano prom- 
ises to fish for us every day ; but he explains that they have 
no coffee and sugar, so we order these necessary articles from 
Alenquer by the first canoe. For board, lodging and wash- 
ing, we agree to pay five hundred reis — about twenty cents 
— per day, with which Graciano is abundantly satisfied. 

From the first, he looks upon himself as a servant ; no 
well-bred Indian thinks of holding himself on an equality 
with a white who has any money. When our meals are ready, 
he spreads a mat on the ground, with plates for us, but none 
for himself; then he stands ready with a calabash of water 
and a towel, that we may wash our hands before eating. 
Northern peasants might smile at our fare. A bowl of fish, 
and another bowl with caldo, the water in which the fish was 
boiled ; a calabash of mandioca-meal ; a plate with red pep- 
pers and salt and limes. The mandioca is soaked with caldo, 
and the fish is eaten with our fingers, for Graciano has no 
forks. Well, there is an appetite, better for seasoning than 


the peppers and limes ; and after dinner the cups of black 
coffee are delicious. If Jose" or his neighbors bring us a 
present of game, so much the better; it is roasted over the 
open iire, with all the juices in, as no French cook could do 
it : or is it the air, and our day's tramp through the woods ? 
Fresh air we have, outdoors and in, for the palm-thatched 
sides are full of holes. The floor is of native earth ; it, and 
the cleared space before the house, are swept neatly every 
day ; and Graciano and his wife are as clean as water can 
keep them. What does it matter that both are barefooted ; 
that Graciano is dressed in coarse white cotton, and that his 
wife has nothing better than a calico gown ? 

There is another Indian settlement in the forest, two miles 
north of Graciano's house. There the sluggish igarape of 
the lowland meadow is a running stream ; farther north still, 
we find only the dry, rocky bed, passing through low woods, 
with urucury * palms and soap-berry trees ; f the fruits of the 
latter are said to take the place of soap for washing, but, if 
they are so used, it must be very rarely ; the Curicaca In- 
dians always employ the strong, black cacao soap. The tree 
seems to be characteristic of low terra firme forests. ' In 
other places along the stream there are strips of still lower, 
alluvial land, where the urucurys grow more abundantly, with 
the spiny murumuru ; :J; such ground is sometimes called varz- 
eada, to distinguish it from true Amazonian varzea on the 
one hand, and rocky terra firme on the other. 

Exploring the forest here, we constantly meet with signs 
of wild animals : tapirs, wild hogs, deer, and jaguars ; in wet 
places, near pools, the whole surface is broken up with their 
tracks, as you will see the ground in a cattle-yard. One day 

* Attalea excelsa, + Sapindus, sp. 

X Astrocaryum murumuru. 

282 BRAZIL. 

we find a deer lying by the path, quite dead, but still warm ; 
four or five scratches on the shoulder show where it was 
struck by a jaguar's paw. Probably our footsteps frightened 
the marauder away as he was about to make a meal from his 
victim. Graciano slings the deer to a tree, and in due time 
carries it home. 

There is an old, abandoned trail, following this dry bed of 
the Curicaca igarape at first, and thence leading nearly due 
north, sixteen or eighteen miles, to Lake Cujubim. " The lake 
is one of those communicating with the river Maecuru ; the 
Indians go there to fish sometimes, but by another path, 
from Terra-preta. However, it suits our purpose better to 
follow the old trail ; with some difficulty we persuade Gra- 
ciano to go with us as a guide ; so we leave the house one 
morning, carrying provisions for three days, and a calabash 
of water. 

It is a hard tramp, and a long one. The forest is tangled 
beyond anything we have seen, and here and there it is in- 
terrupted by meadows, which are worse yet, for the grass is 
higher than our heads, and so matted that we have to cut our 
way through with a knife ; occasionally we meet with clumps 
of sword-grass, which leave hard marks on our clothing and 
skins ; Graciano's bare feet suffer terribly. The meadows 
cause long delays also, because in crossing them we are sure 
to lose the trail, and our only means of finding it is by the 
branches and vines, cut here and there ; no easy task in such 
forest as this, where the cutting was done perhaps five years 
ago. However, we blunder on somehow until near sunset, 
when we lose our way altogether, and are forced to go into 
camp most uncomfortably, with only dry salt-fish and man- 

* Cujubitn, a bird, Penelope, sp. 


dioca-meal for supper, and the last of our water to wash it 
down. In the morning we hunt two hours longer for the 
trail without finding it, and then strike off at random through 
the woods, only keeping a general northerly course ; by good 
luck we stumble into the right way again, and so at length 
reach the lake, thoroughly tired out, to be sure, but with 
that healthy weariness that comes from open-air labor. 

It is a pretty sheet of water, not more than a mile long, 
and with low terra firme coming down to the shore on the 
southern side, where there is an old, deserted hut. To the 
west, there is a great stretch of meadow ; to the east, the lake 
has its outlook to the Maecurii, by an impassable, tangled 
igarape, full of logs and grass. The land in this direction is 
alluvial, and covered with thickets of spiny bamboos ; on the 
northern side there is more alluvial land, with swampy forest 
and bamboo thickets as far as anybody has penetrated. Gra- 
ciano speaks of several lakes in this direction, but he has 
never visited them, and we can learn nothing beyond the 
mere fact or tradition of their existence. Our guide is more 
interested in the lake before us ; he points out great fish 
stirring the water here and there. A dozen alligators are 
lying lazily along the surface, within easy pistol-shot, but by 
no means within shooting distance, for our balls rattle harm- 
lessly against their skulls and bound off into the water. Of 
another class of lake inhabitants I have a too-severe re- 
minder. Jumping into the water for a bath, I jump out 
again in two seconds, with a great gash in one of my toes ; 
the water swarms with hungry cannibal fishes ; * piranhas, 
says Graciano, who was running down to the water to warn 
me. He binds up my foot with certain cooling leaves, and 

* Serrasalmo, sp. 

284 BRAZIL. 

after that we are content with a shower-bath on shore. By 
way of revenge, we bait a hook with a bit of dried meat, 
which happens to be in our provision-bag ; the instant we 
throw it in, it is gobbled up greedily, and our assailant, or 
one of its cousins, is drawn out, snapping savagely at our 
feet and fingers with its razor-like teeth. Graciano cuts off 
its head with his wood-knife, and a bit of this serves to bait 
for the next one ; if the fish do not come fast enough, we 
stir the water vigorously with the pole, when a great rush is 
sure to follow. Ten minutes of this sanguinary sport leave 
some thirty piranhas on the bank ; Graciano finds an earthen 
kettle in the hut, and our fish are speedily boiling for break- 
fast. Notwithstanding their carnivorous propensities, they 
are very good eating. 

There are several species of these greedy piranhas ; this 
kind is seldom more than ten inches long; but t\\Q piranha- 
assu is twice as large, and it makes nothing of biting an 
ounce or so of flesh from a bather's leg. People are some- 
times killed by the piranhas ; hence the Brazilians avoid 
swimming except where they know that the water is free 
from them. The fishermen say that piranhas gather in 
bands against the larger fish ; crowding to the attack, they 
frequently bite each other by mistake ; and the wounded 
ones are mercilessly set upon and devoured by their com- 
panions.* Another dangerous fish of these lakes is the sting- 
ray, which Hes flat on the bottom, the dark upper surface 
hardly visible over the mud and roily water. If left undis- 

* The Tupi v^oxA. pira?iha is said by Von Martius (Glossaries, sub voce) to be a 
contraction of pird-sainha — /. e., toothed fish. The word was subsequently used by 
the Indians for a pair of scissors, comparing their cutting power, I suppose, to that 
of the fish ; and from this, in turn, the name has been used to designate a fork- 
tailed swallow — /. e. , scissors-bird. 



turbed, the creature is harmless enough, but a careless wader 
may step on the flat body, and then the great, barbed sting in- 
flicts a wound that benumbs the whole body, and makes the 
sufferer speechless with pain. I have known a man to be 
bed-ridden for three months after such a wound ; I have 
known others who were lamed for life. 

Our geological gleanings at Cujubim are so promising 
that we return to the lake after some days, better prepared 
for a long stay. We find an Indian fisherman and his family, 
who have come in the interim, and are occupying the little 

Pirarucu (From Keller.) 

half-ruined hut. However, they readily give us a corner of 
it ; sleeping out of doors would be out of the question here, 
for the mosquitoes are numberless. They never disturb us 
during the day ; then we explore the lake and its tributary 
streams as far as we can for the bamboo thickets ; the fish- 
ermen, meanwhile, employing themselves in catching and 

286 BRAZIL. 

curing the great pirarucu,^ which abounds here, as it does 
in all the lowland lakes and channels. It feeds among the 
floating grass patches, in shallow water ; sometimes the fish- 
ermen watch for it there ; in the open lake one man paddles 
the canoe gently, while another, in the bow, stands ready to 
cast his harpoon at the fish as they come to the surface. 
Often he is unsuccessful ; if the two fishermen obtain four or 
five good fish in a day, they may consider themselves fortu- 
nate. Successful lake fisheries depend, first, on high floods, 
which allow the fish to come in from the river over the sub- 
merged lands, second, on low summer vasantes, which keep 
them confined to narrow limits, and in shallow water. When 
both of these fail, the fisheries are unproductive ; hence the 
price of dried pirarucii varies in different years from one dol- 
lar and a half to eight dollars the arroba of thirty-two pounds. 
As it happens, this is an unproductive year on the great 
lakes near the Amazons ; hence these Indians have come to 
out-of-the-way Lake Cujubim, where they have the whole 
harvest to themselves. Some fish that they bring in are 
seven or eight feet long, and will yield four arrobas of dried 
sides ; but these are less esteemed than the small, lean ones. 
The flesh is dried much as codfish is in Newfoundland. The 
sides are hung to a pole, and cut from above and below, so 
as to form wide, thin slices ; these are well rubbed with salt, 
and dried in the sun. The drying process is anything but 
appetizing ; generally the house is surrounded with unfrag- 
rant festoons, on which the flies are perched by thousands. 
At night these must all come in doors ; but for the perfect 
ventilation of the palm-thatch, the place would be uninhabit- 
able. As for the dried fish, one eats it, at first, because there 

* Sudis. 



is no remedy ; yet in time we come to like it very well. It 
is the standard animal food of all the lower classes through- 
out the Amazons Valley. Fortunately for us, the Cujubim 
fishermen bring in plenty of delicate tiictinarcs * and caraita- 
nds ; species as large as shad, and quite as delicious. They 
spear these in the shallows, or catch them with lines ; nets 
are useless here, for the piranhas would bite them to pieces 
in a few minutes. 

Igarape de Cujubim. 

Cujubim is fifteen miles beyond the northernmost settle- 
ment of this region ; but we would penetrate still farther, to 
find, if we can, those other lakes of which the Indians speak. 
There is a good-sized creek flowing in from the northern side, 
but it is impassable for a canoe, and the banks are covered 
with bamboo-thickets, so dense and spiny that the Indians 
can hardly be persuaded to enter them at all. At length we 

* Cichla temensis. 

2 88 BRAZIL. 

bargain with a new-comer, who only agrees to go with us 
when we offer him three times the regular wages. It would 
be useless for us to attempt to make our way alone ; in any 
exploration of this kind, an Indian's instinct and woodcraft 
are worth far more than white intelligence. Our guide is a 
tall, middle-aged man, nicknamed Abacate, alhgator-pear ; 
as is often the case, the nickname has entirely taken the 
place of the baptismal one ; Abacate he is to all his com- 
rades, and Abacate he remains to us, for aught we know of 
any other appellation. 

We carry only our blankets, with a change of clothing, and 
mandioca-meal for four days ; for the rest, we trust to Ab- 
acate's gun and our fishing-lines. So we start early one 
morning, crossing the lake in a canoe, and landing on the 
low ground near the mouth of the northern creek, which we 
propose to follow up. Here the bamboos are twenty or 
thirty feet high, very soft and pretty from the water, but 
once in the thickets we must pick and cut our way as best 
we can, constantly torn by the iron-like, branched spines ; 
they are like those of a honey locust, but stouter, and often 
six inches long. Our wood-knives have been well sharpened, 
but we speedily dull them on the hard bamboos ; the stems 
are so close together that often, when we have cut one, we 
cannot push it back among the others until we have hacked 
it into three or four pieces ; and this where arms and bodies 
are embarrassed in the narrow path. Barefooted Abacate 
picks his way with extreme caution, taking each step as a cat 
does, feeling the ground before he steps on it ; but, with all 
his care, he has to stop more than once to pick a spine from 
his foot. As for us, our clothes are torn, and our bodies are 
scratched in fifty places, but still we push on somehow ; at 
times the ground is clear for a little way, and we walk read- 


ily over the clean, hard clay ; and again we may be an hour 
fighting our way through fifty yards of tabocal. Rarely we 
see an old knife-cut,, mark of some former explorer ; but 
there is nothing like a continued trail. We keep the creek 
in sight, and so, about noon, come out to a little quiet lake or 
pond, such an one as you dream of, but do not often see, even 
on the Amazons. The surface, from one side to the other, 
is covered with beautiful aquatic plants, pontederias and lil- 
ies ; but we hardly notice these ; queen among them all, the 
Victoria regia spreads its great leaves on the placid water, 
and the air is heavy with the perfume of its flowers. We 
count more than a hundred superb ones along the shore, 
and farther out the whole surface is dotted with them. The 
leaves are perfectly circular, and turned up at the edges, so 
that they look like great, shallow pans floating on the water ; 
the Indians compare them to the furjios, or pans, on which 
mandioca-meal is roasted ; hence the ndiix\Q, fur 710 de jacarc, 
alligator's roasting-pan. 

There must be plenty of fish among the plants, for we see 
them stirring the surface in every direction ; Abacate sur- 
veys the lake with a fisherman's eye, noting here a pirarucu, 
and there a carauana, though for our part we can see only 
black heads, all one to us. We eat our breakfast here, but 
have no time for fishing ; there is a tangled grass-plot be- 
yond the lake, where we must hew our way through as we 
would through so much thick hedge. Once across, we re- 
solve at least to have a clear path here on our return ; so 
Abacate sets fire to the grass in several places, and the 
flames leap over the dry stalks in an instant, flashing up 
twenty feet, and sending great clouds of smoke over the 
lake. We can hear the roaring and crackling, as we push 
our way on through another bamboo thicket, the worst that 

290 BRAZIL. 

we have yet encountered ; in the end, we are obliged to make 
a great detour to avoid an utterly impassable mass. Coming 
out again on the creek, we wade it where it is up to our 
waists ; the current here is almost imperceptible, and the 
water is covered, in many places, with grass and pontederias. 
The whole region is a dead level ; Abacate climbs a tall tree 
and reports low terra firme to the northeast, about two miles; 
toward this we make our way, through a score of bamboo- 
thickets ; reaching the goal at length, with our stout hunting- 
shirts torn to rags, and our arms and bodies all bloody. 
Abacate is hardly able to walk for a great spine in his foot, 
and I am but little better off with a splinter in my knee ; al- 
together, we are a sorry party. 

The land that we have reached is a low, rocky point, with 
alluvial ground and bamboo thickets on either side. The 
forest here is high and open, with undergrowth of stemless 
curud palms.* Since leaving the little Lake Morerii, we have 
seen no indication of any previous exploration ; but here on 
the point, we pick up two or three bits of broken pottery. 
Can the place have been frequented by the old Indian tribes ? 
They might have reached it, perhaps, from the Maecurii ; 
certainly, they never pierced these bamboo forests with their 
stone axes. 

We might camp here for the night ; but unfortunately we 
neglected to fill our water-bottles before leaving the igarape, 
and the hard work has made us savagely thirsty. Abacate 
is for returning, but we resolve to push off through the low- 
land again, hoping to strike the creek farther up. Fortu- 
nately, there are few bamboo thickets in this direction ; we 
walk easily through open woods until we reach the igarape, 

* Attalea, sp. 


here flowing from the northwest with a sluggish current. It 
is much wider and deeper than near Lake Cujubim ; the 
banks are Hned with beautiful open woods, much like varzea 
forest ; but here the trees are dark-stemmed, and streaming 
with black moss. By the flood-marks on their trunks, the 
waters must rise twenty feet or more. 

We follow the bank of the creek for two or three miles, 
when darkness draws on and we are fain to go into camp. 
There are no palm-leaves here to build a hut of; so we 
must hope that the threatening skies will not bring rain be- 
fore morning. We have been pretty thoroughly wet by a 
shower in the afternoon ; with difficulty Ave light a fire from the 
soaked sticks lying about, and a bird that Abacate has shot 
is toasted for supper. We dry ourselves, as well as we can, 
and so lie down, grievously tormented with the mosquitoes, 
which give us no peace until the cool air before daybreak 
drives them away. 

We follow the igarape for five or six miles yet, through 
open forests and bamboo thickets, but there are no indica- 
tions of high land or of more lakes. Abacate climbs the tall- 
est tree that he can find, and scans the landscape on all sides ; 
there is a line of inongubas* he says, stretching off to the 
w^est : a water-side tree, that marks the course of the igarape 
which we have been following. To the northwest there is a 
line of higher land, just visible in the distance ; to the east, 
no terra firme nearer than the point over which we passed 
yesterday. The wonder is, that this great stretch of lowland 
should be found here, cut off" as it is from the Amazons, 
and only connected with the small river Maecuru by a nar- 
row passage below Lake Cujubim. Why, we ask ourselves, 

* Bombax, sp. 

292 BRAZIL. 

should this insignificant creek have a flood-plain twelve miles 
wide ? The Amazonian varzeas are hardly broader in some 

It is now three days since we left Cujubim, but our prog- 
ress has been so slow that we can hardly be more than 
twelve miles from the lake ; eighteen, perhaps, by the crooked 
route that we have followed. Mindful of our scanty pro- 
visions, we give up farther exploration in this direction, and 
return to the terra firme point, where we can hope to pass 
the night free from mosquito-torments. The sky is clouding 
rapidly ; we throw up a palm-leaf shelter in time to escape a 
hard shower ; when that is passed, the darkness has set in, 
and we have much ado to find wood for the indispensable 
fire. Palm-leaves are thrown on the ground to form a soft 
bed ; we roll ourselves in our blankets and sleep as only tired 
men can. 

Towards midnight I am awakened by Abacate's dog,, 
which stumbles over me, yelping, and then executes a com- 
plicated dance about the fire ; while wondering at this phe- 
nomenon, we are suddenly made aware of its cause by vicious 
little bites all over our bodies. '' Corosoes f'^ shouts Aba- 
cate, and, begins to slap himself vigorously ; we are all over- 
run by an army of foraging-ants. A half-minute of the bat- 
tle ends in a quick retreat to the forest. We wait, at a safe 
distance, until the last of the host has passed by ; then re- 
turn, and sleep undisturbed until morning. Our experience 
is not an unusual one on the Amazons ; often the ants enter 
houses and run over everything for a little while, but they 
kill the roaches and spiders, and do no harm. Some of the 
armies are immense ; while attacking, they form compact pha- 

* Eciton, sp. Perhaps corgaa. I have not been able to find the word in any of 
my dictionaries. 


langes, but at other times, the columns are narrow — five or six 
ants abreast, and forming lines of almost interminable length. 
I once noticed one of these lines crossing a forest path at six 
o'clock in the morning ; during the day I frequently passed 
by the place, and the ants were still keeping their way in the 
same direction ; at nine o'clock in the evening the end of the 
procession had not passed. Allowing that the insects trav- 
elled but an eighth of a mile per hour, which is a very low 
calculation, the line must have been nearly two miles long, 
and composed of at least a million individuals. A friend 
of mine assures me that he once noted an army which was 
three days in passing a given point. The ecitons travel as 
the Goths did, carrying their children with them ; they have 
no fixed habitation, but we frequently find them collected in 
immense masses under a log ; this, probably, is during the 
breeding season, when the females are laying their eggs. The 
armies are composed exclusively of workers and soldiers. 

As we already have a path cut through the tabocdes, our 
return trip is comparatively easy ; half a day from the point 
brings us back to Cujubim, ragged and lame, but only re- 
gretting that we have not explored the remainder of the iga- 
rape. Tradition speaks of a large lake called Mimi^ lyi^ig ii^ 
this direction ; but within the memory of the oldest fisher- 
man no one has visited it.* 

Our eight weeks of geological exploration have not been 
unproductive of results, though the rock exposures are few 
and far between. What we have seen may be condensed 
into this. The campos and low hills east of Paracary show 
only coarse sandstones and clays, of the universal Amazo- 

* The Indian, Abacate, subsequently explored this igarape for eight or ten miles 
farther, but he found no more lakes ; the flood-plain was as wide as ever. 

294 BRAZIL. 

niaii formation : Tertiary or Modern, without fossils, so far 
as we can find. North of a Hne extending east and west 
through Terra-preta and Curicaca, the rocks are sandstones 
of the Carboniferous series; and at Cujubim there are shght 
exposures of Hmestone, precisely like that of the Lower Ta- 
pajos. The rocks are very nearly level ; everywhere they 
are obscured by trap-intrusions, diorite and breccia, so that 
it is very difficult to obtain sections. Fossil-hunting is any- 
thing but a pastime in these jungles ; our Cujubim collec- 
tions are brought away with difficulty, on a horse, but at 
other places we must hire men to take them to the nearest 
canoe-landing on their backs.* 

The wet season comes on apace, and the rains make for- 
est exploration uncomfortable and tedious. With regret we 
leave the beautiful lakes and our kind friends, Indian and 
white. Graciano takes us in his canoe to Alenquer, passing 
over the flooded meadows and through two or three other 
lakes lying close against the terra firme. I must tell you of 
my own explorations about Alenquer, and beyond to the 
river Curua. 

* The following notes may aid future geological explorers in seeking out new 
localities. Among the country people, pedra brava generally denotes the coarse, 
purple sandstone rock of the Tertiary (?) series; tabatinga is Tertiary clay ; pedra dc 
amolar (whetstone rock) is generally a sandstone of the Carboniferous or Devonian 
series, and will always repay exploration ; pedra preta is generally diorite, with 
which Palaeozoic rocks may be associated ; /<?rf'<?,r;? <'?>(? (flint), ov pedra para tocar 
fogo, may be chert or cherty rock, or sometimes diorite. Pedra de cal is limestone, 
but other white rocks are frequently mistaken, for this. Pay no attention to rumors 
of gold or coal-mines. 



MY impressions of Alenquer are very pleasant. I 
reached the place one afternoon, just before sunset. 
There was the usual row of picturesque whitewashed houses, 
and a church, not at all handsome ; a great tract of open 
grass-land stretching down to the water-side, and a forest- 
covered ridge back of the village. What with the sunshine 
on the houses, and the dark woods in the background, and 
the bright green turf, it formed an exquisite picture ; the 
more so to me, I suppose, because I had been canoeing all 
day by wild forests, and the sunset village came in sight sud- 
denly, as we rounded a point. 

After this, I was here very often, and came to like the 
place immensely. At first I lived with one of the villagers ; 
but after awhile I had a house of my own, and picked up a 
man to work for me. This fellow, Pedro, was my factotum 
for a long time. He was a young Indian, rather wxak- 
minded, but he served me so faithfully and was so ready and 
affectionate, that I became much attached to him. He was 
in debt, of course, and his creditor made him work at inter- 
vals by way of payment ; I persuaded this creditor to make 
out an account, and advised Pedro to leave half of his wages 
in my hands for its payment ; in this way, I had the satisfac- 



tion of seeing the debt cancelled before Pedro left me : 
though I have no doubt that he made another one as soon as 

Alenquer lies several miles away from the main Amazons, 
on a side channel, the Igarapc d' Alenquer ; or rather, just 
within the mouth of a small affluent, the Igarape de Itaearard, 
which enters the Alenquer from the north. This Igarape 
d'Alenquer is, as we shall see, the outlet of the river Curua ; 
but it contains Amazonian water also. It is wide enough 

Village Scene, Alenquer. 

and deep enough for any of the river steamers ; in the dry 
season they receive cargo directly at the bank, but in January 
and February the water overflows the great grass-plot before 
the village, almost up to the streets ; then the steamers must 
be loaded from canoes. Alenquer has a thriving trade in 
Brazil-nuts, cacao and dried pirarucu-fish. There are a 


dozen stores, with groceries and dry-goods ; a few work- 
shops, and so on. The place may have eight hundred in- 
habitants. Like most of the river towns, it is well laid out, 
with wide streets, and a square before the church ; the houses 
are modern, very well built, of adobe or brick, and with tile- 
roofs ; only a few, in the outskirts, are palm-thatched. 

The people are unceremonious and hospitable. The mer- 
chants are shrewd money-makers ; most of them own cattle- 
farms or cacao-plantations away from the town ; these are 
their best securities, and the starting-points with many of 
them. The educated people are the schoolmaster and two 
or three provincial officers ; perhaps I should add the priest ; 
he was a man of fifty or thereabouts ; bad-featured, im- 
mensely corpulent, and the most immoral person in the 
village. He was noted as a hunter ; used to spend entire 
days in the woods, rain or shine, and very hard work it must 
have been with his fat body. As for pastoral labor, that was 
pretty much confined to saying mass, officiating rarely at a 
marriage or burial, and baptizing children ; these latter, at 
Alenquer, are out of all proportion to the marriages. 

All through the country towns of Brazil you will find 
ecclesiastics like this : sensual, immoral, degraded, a by-word 
and a reproach among the people. I believe that most of 
these men commence their lives with honest purity of pur- 
pose ; but the temptations of their position find ready victims 
in enforced celibates ; then, with the first sin, comes remorse; 
with others despair ; and the priest settles down to routine, 
and reckless impurity, and shame hardly concealed. He is 
worse than other people, because he is reckless, and intelh- 
gent, and well-fed. Now, I think it wonderful that there are 
any good priests. Sometimes you meet with such, like the 
vicar of Santarem : unselfish Christians, who do more by 

298 BRAZIL. 

their example than they could by volumes of sermon-sanctity. 
But they often lose the respect that they deserve, because 
intelligent people have become disgusted with priests al- 
together ; unjustly lump the good with the bad, and fare 
the worse themselves. Other men revere the office, though 
they may despise the man ; and the lower classes worship 
blindly, and laugh at the priest and his immoralities if they 
think of them at all. 

I found much to interest me around Alenquer. The 
woods are high and pleasant ; there is a good road running 
back three or four miles to the picturesque Lake Curumu, 
where I sometimes went with Pedro. The lake is in a hol- 
low of the terra firme, communicating Avith the varzea plains 
by a narrow^ passage ; in other words, it is a projection of the 
alluvial land that has not been entirely filled in. The shores 
are low, and rocky in many places, with long spits of sand, 
and groves of javary palms.* A score or so of houses are 
scattered along the shores. Pedro and I stopped with an 
old Indian, apparently a pure-blooded one, but he differed 
from nearly all the Indians that I ever saw, in that he had 
amassed a little property; besides three or four good houses, 
he had a cacao plantation on the lowlands, and fifty or sixty 
cattle. His Curumu house w^as quite a triumph of rural 
architecture : covered with palm-thatch, of course, and with 
earthen floor ; but it was very neatly built, and had three 
large rooms. The old fellow was rough, but good-hearted ; 
he made long excursions with me in the woods, and marvelled 
greatly at my saving w^orthless stones and bugs. His wife 
was a virago, and, like the rest of her class, had a soft side ; 
I used to mollify her with tobacco, but she steadily refused 

* Astrocaryum javari. 



to let her daughters smoke ; said it was an expensive habit, 
which young women should not learn. The girls often 
begged a pipeful on the sly, smoking it when their mother 
was away. 

At Curumu and the neighboring settlements, I tried to 
pick up canoemen for my projected trip to the Curua ; but, 

An Indian Kitchen. 

it was by no means easy to make up a crew. The river has 
a very bad reputation for fevers and general sickliness ; not 
without cause, it must be said, though probably the ill is 
overrated. The Indians go there readily enough to gather 
Brazil-nuts, or to fish, but it is the free life that attracts them, 
and the possibility of large profits with successful work. 
Canoeing, under another man's orders, has no such charm ; 
their experience is with the traders, who keep them in a con- 
dition of semi-servitude, and pay them but scantily in the 



end. At first I could not find a man to go with me. After 
a little, I began to speak of my expedition rather as a pleas- 
ure excursion, a tour of discovery, with plenty of fishing and 
turtle-hunting throw^n in ; but even with these attractions I 
could get only two men besides Pedro. One of these, Joao, 
was a dark cafuzo,"^ a willing fellow, but apt to be sullen and 
passionate whenever he thought I was infringing on his 
rights. The other man, Antonio by name, was an old 
mainelicco,^ whose sole possessions in the world were a rag- 
ged hammock and his little boy, Feliciano. He stipulated 
in the outset that the boy should go with us. I agreed to 
take him, at least as far as the settlements of the lower 
Curua, where we would decide finally whether he could 
safely go to the falls. Antonio proved to be very faithful 
and hard-working. He was so devotedly attached to little 
Feliciano, that he would hardly sufi*er him to go out of his 
sight ; the boy always slept in his father's hammock, and sat 
by him in the canoe ; the old man gave him his bath night 
and morning, saw that he had tender bits at dinner, and 
carried him over rough places on shore. Yet the two were 
not demonstrative in their affection ; Feliciano, sitting quite 
still by his father, was like any other Indian or half-breed 
child ; and I never knew Antonio to caress him, or say a 
loving word to him. 

I hired a good, serviceable canoe of one of the Alenquer 
merchants ; provisions for several weeks were stowed away 
in the little thatched tolda, and I hoped to fill out my insuf- 
ficient crew at the Curua settlements. So we left the village 
early one morning, turning up the Igarape d'Alenquer, which 
runs here between bright green meadows, with clumps of 

* Cross between an Indian and a negro, 
t Cross between an Indian and a white. 


trees along the shore. The water was almost at its lowest 
point, fifteen or twenty feet below the meadows ; the clay 
banks steeply cut, as on all the varzea channels, but every- 
where with a floating fringe of beautiful canjia-rajia grass. 
Under these grass fringes the fish love to hide ; pretty aca- 
rcis,"^ or slender sarapds^ or great clnHisy piraruais ; % and 
often the swaying stalks showed where an alligator had been 
sunning himself by the bank. 

The igarape has a pretty uniform width of about one 
hundred and fifty yards ; the water is clay yellow, like the 
Amazons; current strong, but not swift. About fifteen miles 
above Alenquer, the Amazonian water flows in through a 
wide, short channel ; this channel, indeed, is regarded as the 
upper mouth of the Alenquer, and the stream which flows in. 
from the west, like a continuation of the Alenquer, is known 
as the Igarape do Lago de Ciirud ; thus, the Alenquer would 
be 2^ parand-miri, or side channel of the Amazons, receiving 
the Igarape do Lago at the upper end. The latter stream 
has still a portion of Amazonian water, as we shall see ; but 
in the endless ramifications of the lowland channels, it seems 
simpler to regard the Igarape do Lago and the Igarape 
d'Alenquer as portions of the river Curua — channels in which 
it flows through the lowlands, to enter the Amazons near 

The steamboats of the Amazonian Company, coming 
down from Obidos to Alenquer, enter the igarape through 
this upper mouth. There is a thriving little sugar plantation 
here, the cane growing well on the raised border, where it is 
flooded only during three or four weeks of each year. For 
the rest, the grass-lands afford pasturage to many small 

* Mesonauta insignis. t Carapus, sp. var. % Sudis. 

302 BRAZIL. 

herds, and a few large ones. The whole region is varzea 
meadow; only, far to the north, we could see little islands 
of terra hrme, rising above the rich green of the plain. Some 
of these islands contain strips of grass-land, where the cattle 
are kept during the floods ; but the larger herds are driven 
away to Campo Grajtde, the great highland pasture north of 

Stopping constantly to examine lakes and channels, our 
progress was slow enough ; we passed the first night at a 
cattle fazenda, and only in the afternoon of the second day 
reached the broad lake Curua, twenty-five miles from Alen- 
quer. Long before reaching the lake, the belt of trees along 
the banks had disappeared ; the banks themselves were 
lower, and almost as far as we could see, there was only 
clean, bright meadow, as level as the ocean. No doubt 
these low meadows are a more recent formation than the 
high ones near Alenquer ; the Amazons has had no time to 
build them up, and throw on a raised border where forest 
trees can grow. Time was when Lake Curua extended far 
down toward Alenquer ; but every flood has added a little 
to the meadows at the lower end, and so, in the course of 
centuries, they have attained their present limit, leaving only 
a long outlet through the Igarape do Lago. 

There was a fine breeze over the lake when we entered 
it ; the men had the sail up in a moment, and we bowled 
along, six or eight miles an hour, spray flying and water 
fretting merrily under the bows ; open horizon ahead of us, 
and the two sides only visible as a broken line of meadow, 
with clumps of trees here and there. But the lake is very 

"^ I have never visited Campo Grande. According to the reports of the herds- 
men, it is a stony plain, many miles wide and at least twenty long ; probably it 
would repay geological exploration. 


shallow ; once we ran aground almost In the middle, and 
even in the deeper places we could sometimes touch the bot- 
tom with our boat-poles. During very low vasantes, it is said, 
the lake is reduced to a mere channel, with mud-banks on 
either side ; the still larger Lago de Tostdo, near by, dries up 
altogether.* Tostao communicates with Lake Curua by a 
mouth about four hundred yards wide. Just by this en- 
trance, on the southern side of it, there is a little clump of 
high woods, called Ilha de JMiiini. The men had told me 
that this was a terra firme island ; but the nearest highland 
to the north was eight or ten miles away, and beyond the 
Amazons I knew that the southern mainland was still farther 
off; I could not believe that such an insignificant fragment 
could be left in the very midst of the varzeas. As it turned 
out, however, the men were right. We landed on a pebbly 
shore, and found little ridges of rounded stones, perhaps 
three acres in all. The island is covered, or nearly covered, 
during every flood ; but it is none the less distinct from the 
mud and clay around it. Not the Amazons itself could throw 
up a ridge like this ; there must be a foundation of solid sand- 
stone below, from which these pebbles have been washed. 
Yet the trees are of varzea species, t Mixed with the peb- 
bles I found numerous fragments of pottery, and bivalve 
shells like those in the shell-heap at Taperinha. No doubt 
the island was frequented, centuries ago, by shell-fish eating 
Indians — perhaps the same tribe that built the Taperinha 
mound. Shells and pottery have been rolled about until they 

* According to Sr. D. S. Ferreira Penna : A Regiao Occidental da Provincia do 
Para, p. 60. 

+ I regret that I did not make a careful examination of the plants on this curious 
island, but I was much pressed for time. The sandstone is hard, and of various 

304 BRAZIL. 

are hardly recognizable ; those that are left must have come 
from large heaps on the ridge. 

We went a little way into Lake Tostao, which stretches 
far to the western horizon, but it is so shallow that we 
hardly found water for the canoe. Alligators swarm around 
the mouth like so many tadpoles ; I counted seventeen with- 
in easy pistol-shot. During great vasantes, when the lake 
dries up, they are forced together in httle pools ; there they 
grow ravenous with hunger, until they devour each other 
mercilessly. Woe to the ox or man that falls into one of 
these terrible pools : a quick struggle, a trail of blood, and a 
score of hideous reptiles are tearing limb from limb. Yet at 
other times the alligators are cowardly, and generally harm- 
less ; these at Tostao never offered to attack us, though the 
men were bathing up to their knees in the water. 

Lake Curua extends twenty miles or more, almost to the 
terra firme ; but different parts of it are known by different 
names : Lago de Cardozo, Lago dos Botos, Lago de Maaird. 
When the waters are lowest, these parts form separate lakes, 
connected by wide, short channels ; but at other times the 
whole series forms a single sheet, varying in width from one 
mile to eight or ten. On the southern side, Lago de Tostao 
lies close to the Amazons ; to the north, a score of smaller 
lakes are scattered about the varzea meadows ; to the south- 
west, another group extends almost to Obidos. 

All of these lakes are rich in fish ; Curua and Tostao, es- 
pecially, are celebrated for their great harvests of pirarucu. 
We saw many fishing canoes, and now and then an open 
hut where some Indian family had camped for the summer ; 
a most uncomfortable life they must have led, for the mos- 
quitoes here were numberless ; at nightfall we were sur- 
rounded by swarms of them. 


We had turned to the north now, entering the river Cu- 
rua. At first it is a narrow channel in the floating grass, 
where we could hardly force our way against the swift cur- 
rent ; but farther up, the banks are well defined — nearly two 
hundred yards apart, with a border of trees hiding the mead- 
ows within. The floating grass below marks a long shallow, 
where the river is forming its little delta in the lake ; this 
shallow forms, also, the limit of Lago dos Botos, where it is 
separated from the main Lago de Curua. 

It was midnight before we reached the settlement of Cu- 
rua ; a chorus of barking dogs greeted us as we landed at 
the high banks and walked up to a whitewashed house near 
by. I shouted long before the owner came out, sleepily, to 
greet me ; but his hospitality was ready enough ; in ten min- 
utes my hammock was swung in the best room, and I had 
forgotten about mosquitoes and everything else. So it is 
with this half- wild life : sleep is a solid block cut out of ex- 
istence ; you enter a blank ; you emerge to sunshine, and 
health, and life without limit. 

The village of Curua* is one of those out-of-the-way 

* Formerly a mission village, called Bares^ was established just above the pres- 
ent settlement, at the place now called Curud-vclha ; in 1758 it took the name of 
Logar de Arcozello, but shortly afterward the mission was removed to Obidos. Tra- 
dition says that Alenquer (then called Surubiii) took its rise from the same village 
of Arcozello, the people removing bodily, on account of the unhealthfulness of the 
old location. But if this change took place, it must have been very early, for already, 
in 1758, the village of Alenquer was created by official act ; in Moraes (Historia da 
Companhia de Jesus, 1759) I find the two villages mentioned as Surubiii and Cu- 
ruhd. Jose Goncalves de Fonseca (Navega^lo feita da cidade do Gram-Para, 1749) 
wrote: "The lake Surubiii (Curua) opens by two mouths into the Amazons. On 
the eastern side (?) is founded a village, having the same name as the lake, and 
under charge of the Capuchin Fathers. The Indians of this village live in great 
plenty, not only from the lake, but from the campos, where cattle are raised." The 
present village of Curua was founded in 1849. See D. S. Ferreira Penna, op. cit. , 
pp. 64, 65. 


306 BRAZIL. 

places that one finds scattered through the Amazonian re- 
gion — a drowsy, happy, old-fashioned settlement, the very 
type of tropical repose. Steamboats cannot come here ; the 
nearest ports are Alenquer and Obidos, a day's journey 
away, either of them, canoeing through the channels. The 
villagers do not concern themselves greatly with these river 
towns ; up here it is cool and healthful ; the land is rich, and 
the fish are abundant, and Curua is honiia : that is it, boiiita 
— pretty, the word that expresses all excellence to the rustic 
mind. Please God, they shall live here where their fathers 
lived, and the vague outside world may go on with its sput' 
tering steamboats, and great, candle-lit churches, and broad- 
cloth coats. 

Some fifty palm-thatch houses are scattered irregularly 
along the shore, and in the second -growth woods beyond. 
To this day I know not but there may be fifty more ; I was 
forever stumbling on them when hunting for insects along 
the narrow paths. The Indians, especially, seem always to 
conceal their houses ; each one is built in a little cleared 
space, which is kept quite clean, and free from weeds and 
bushes ; but even if the house is near the main path, they 
almost always leave a hedge of tropical growth before it, so 
that a passer-by sees nothing of the open ground. Perhaps 
this is an instinct, inherited from their naked, brown ances- 
tors ; savages hide themselves as birds and beasts do, even 
when they have nothing to fear. 

There are three houses of more aristocratic port, white- 
washed and tile-covered ; two of these are stores ; the other 
is occupied by the village schoolmaster, but the school is 
accommodated in a palm-thatched shed adjacent. The mas- 
ter — good old Braz Correa, I shall never forget his obsequi- 
ous visits to me, and how he made the little boys rise up to 



do me reverence when I passed by the door. It is different 
in the steamboat ports ; bless you, the traveUing naturahst is 
no uncommon visitor there, and the people never think of 
lionizing him. But they lionized me at Curua, as never a 
bug-hunter was lionized be- 
fore. I walked about, se- j 
renely aware that I was ' :^r^^ 1 
the most important man in 
the place. 

The sensible country 
people went about in light 
cotton clothes ; the women 
with skirt and chemise, the 
men with trousers and 
shirt and a broad-brimmed 
straw hat. Braz Correa 
and one or two others had 
coats, which they wore on 
state occasions ; and most 
of the well-to-do peasants 
were possessors of shoes, 
which they carried in their 
hands quite as often as on 
their feet. Shoes are gall- 
ing, and should be used 
only in company, 

I lived with one of the 
principal storekeepers, a 

nearly pure black, and one of the few of his race that I have 
seen in positions of trust ; he was employed by an Alenquer 
merchant to superintend this branch establishment, and a very 
steady and hard-working fellow he was. Every day I walked 

An Indian Mother. 

308 BRAZIL. 

out into the forest. It was primeval forest, untouched, ex- 
cept close to the village, and the highest and most luxuriant 
that I ever saw, even on the Amazons ; more than a hundred 
feet on the level, with individual trees rising far above that. 
The ground here was carpeted thickly with ferns and delicate 
lycopodiums ; the tree -trunks were mossy and always damp ; 
in the thick forests the dew stood on the leaves until near 
mid-day. Perhaps this damp atmosphere and more luxuri- 
ant growth betoken the true limits of the Upper Amazonian 
woods ; to the eastward the forest is not so high, and it is 
more or less interrupted by open campo lands, as we have 
seen near Paracary. At Curua the ground is level and not 
very high, though out of reach of the river-floods. It is a 
rich, sandy clay ; in places there is black loam with frag- 
ments of pottery, like that at Taperinha. 

Everywhere in the Curua forest there are narrow paths 
and trails, made by the Brazil-nut gatherers ; this is one of 
the richest nutting-grounds on the Amazons : many hundred 
persons come, in January and February, to gather the fruits 
and sell them to traders. 

If you have ever thought of it at all, you have sup- 
posed that the Brazil-nut business was a very small affair ; 
hardly worthy to be called an industry. You can conceive 
of an orange commerce, because everybody eats oranges ; 
but who ever could be found to buy Brazil-nuts ? 

School-boys, my dear sir. This is, precisely, a com- 
merce for school-boys. I fancy that more than half of these 
colicky nuts, which employ so many persons in the gather- 
ing, and so many ships in the carrying, reach their final des- 
tination in the school-boy pocket and the school-boy stom- 
ach. Here is a problem : Given one million boys, each of 
whom devours ten Brazil-nuts per month (a small allowance, 


surely) ; how many bushels will the million consume in a 
year? Multiply your million by just as many as you think 
proper, to embrace the school-boys of the United States, 
England, France and Germany, and I think that the Brazil- 
nut commerce will cease to be a matter of wonder. 

The nuts rank third in importance among the exports ot 
the Amazons Valley, the two first being rubber and cacao ; 
small quantities, also, are sent out of Maranhao, and a few, 
perhaps, from the Orinoco. From Para, the exportations 
have greatly increased within the last few years, reaching 
over one hundred thousand alqueircs annually, or about 
eleven million pounds. A large proportion of these nuts 
come from the rivers Tocantins, Xingu, Trombetas, and 

The Brazil-nut tree * is superb ; so high, that its great, 
thick-leaved domes rise sheer above the forest around, fifty 
feet or more. I measured, by angulation, one that was 
over two hundred feet from root to crown ; its magnificent, 
straight trunk was fifteen feet through at least, and with 
never a branch for a hundred feet from the ground. I have 
no doubt that there are higher ones ; but it is impossible to 
measure them in the thick forest. On the Curua, the other 
giants look like pigmies beside these ; you can see the great 
crowns, ten miles away or more on the hill-sides. The Ber- 
tholletia grows on low, rich terra firme, like that of the 
Curua ; never on the flood-plains. As Senhor Penna has 
remarked, the trees form two zones, one on either side of 
the Amazons ; on the branch rivers they generally mark the 
limit of free navigation, where the rocky terra firme stream 
is merged into the deep channels of the flood-plain. 

* Bertholletia excelsa. 

310 BRAZIL. 

The tree has a rough bark, and rather large, dark, glossy 
green leaves ; a varnished green, like that of trailing garden- 
myrtles or dwarf-box. The nuts, sixteen or eighteen to- 
gether, are packed away in a round, hard, black case, like a 
cocoa-nut, but rougher ; nature does this packing so neatly 
that, once removed, no puzzler could get them back again. 
When they are ripe the cases fall to the ground ; of course, 
it would be useless to attempt to gather fruit from such a 
tree ; and experience has shown that picked nuts will not 

With the incoming of the nutting season, the Curua for- 
est takes a new^ aspect. It is no longer silent and deserted ; 
canoes come every day, with Indians and half-breeds ; many 
with their families, and household utensils for a three months' 
campaign in the woods. They come from Obidos, Alenquer, 
Santarem, even Prainha and Itaituba, two or three hundred 
miles away. Tiny, palm-thatched huts are built along the 
banks, and hammocks are swung to the trees ; every day the 
woods are traversed by the nut-gatherers ; every night the 
shores are lighted by their fires. 

It is not an easy life : tramping through many miles of 
the thick forest, they must bring in their day's gathering — 
sixty or eighty pounds, perhaps — on their backs. They are 
content to breakfast and sup on a bit offish and a little man- 
dioca-meal ; even these sometimes fail them, for the improv- 
ident people do not care to burden themselves with a large 
stock of provisions ; besides, their forest-work leaves them 
little time to fish and prepare food, and the wet season is 
always the time of scarcity. It is the time of fever and 
weakness, too. The Curua village is healthy enough ; but 
far up the river, by the rapids and along the narrow side- 
streams, the air is full of miasma ; the forests are reeking 


with it. And it is there that the nut-trees are most abun- 
dant ; there hundreds of gatherers are wandering for weeks, 
soaked by the frequent showers, working Hke beasts of bur- 
den, often half-starved, and it is no wonder that the fever 
seizes them. It is not often directly fatal ; but the poor 
wretches are tortured for months ; they have no medicines, 
and they do not take care to provide themselves with nour- 
ishing food when they can get it ; many of them die at 
length, either of the ague, or of liver complaints that are 
brought on by it. 

There are direct perils also. Sometimes the gatherers 
are lost in the woods. They told me of one American 
sailor, who was lost in the Curua forest, and wandered for 
seven days, with no nourishment but the hard nuts. Luckily 
he was picked up by the Indians ; others have been less for- 
tunate. Sometimes canoes, loaded with nuts, are overturned 
in the rapids, and the boatmen are drowned. But the grand 
danger — the one most dreaded — is that of the falling nut- 
capsules. They are five inches in diameter, and weigh two 
or three pounds ; falling a hundred feet or more, they come 
crashing through the branches like cannon balls, and bury 
themselves often six inches deep in the ground. You can 
imagine that a man's skull would be small proof against such 
a missile. The gatherers keep to their huts while the morning 
wind is blowing, and if their roof is at all exposed it is in- 
clined strongly, so that the fruits will glance off from it. 

While the fruits are falling, the gatherers occupy them- 
selves at home, cutting open the hard cases with their heavy 
knives, and drying the nuts in the sun. When the wind dies 
away, men and women sally out to the gathering, bringing 
the nuts on their backs in great baskets. They sell them to 
the traders, at rates varying from one dollar and twenty-five 

312 BRAZIL. 

cents to two dollars per alqueire, according to the abundance 
or poverty of the harvest. Besides the two stores at Curua, 
which do their most thriving business during the nutting 
season, there are always trading canoes, well stocked with 
smaller wares. The traders, as usual, keep the peasants in 
debt, and often cheat them unconscionably, making them 
pay two or three times over, perhaps ; for none of the poor 
people can keep accounts, or would if they could. At 
Curua, the store-keepers often give credit for six or eight 
months, until the yearly nut-harvest comes in to their store- 
houses. It must be said that the peasants very seldom shirk 
their obligations entirely, though they are never in haste to pay. 

The traders dry the nuts frequently in hot sunshine ; 
finally, they are packed in baskets and shipped to Para, al- 
ways, of course, under the credit system : for the Para mer- 
chant receives these cargoes in payment of debts incurred by 
the river-merchant or traders. From Para they are shipped 
as soon as possible : largely to England and the United 
States, but a few go to France, Portugal, and Germany. 
The nuts do not keep well in this climate, and merchants 
always avoid an accumulation of them. 

The prices in Para, as reckoned in the custom-house, vary 
from two and one-quarter to three and one-half cents per 
pound ; allowing for the profits of the commission merchant, 
it must be somewhat more. The export duties (1878) are no 
less than thirty-six per cent., including the provincial and 
municipal taxes, and those of the General Government. 

The fresh nuts are really very nice ; but it is a matter of 
wonder to me that I could ever have liked the stale things I 
used to buy in the grocery stores. Yet I remember that my 
school-boy taste was not superior to raw and unseasoned 
artichokes, and wild elderberries. Well, well ! 


There is another Amazonian nut that seldom reaches our 
markets — the sapucaia.*^ The tree is hardly less grand than 
the Bertholletia, but it has a wide, umbrella-like crown, and 
buttressed roots ; it grows, too, indifferently on the terra 
firme, or in the swamps, or on the edge of the flood-plains. 
The fruit-capsule is as large as a man's head, or larger, and 
very thick. It is closed above (or rather, beneath, as it hangs 
from the branches) by a round lid ; when the fruit is ripe, 
this lid drops out, and the nuts fall to the ground. As they 
have now no hard case to protect them, they are soon de- 
voured by the forest animals ; monkeys, various rodents, and 
birds seek them eagerly ; so, though the tree is common 
enough, it happens that only a few nuts are left for the 
gatherers ; consequently they are more valuable, selling regu- 
larly at three times the price of the Brazil-nuts. The sapu- 
caias are much better, too ; when fresh they are delicious, 
and highly prized by the Brazilians themselves ; but they do 
not keep well. Most of them go to the London market. 
They are rather smaller than the Brazil-nuts, lighter-colored, 
and very irregular in shape. These nuts are so valuable, and 
in point of fact so common, that it seems a pity to leave them 
to waste. Perhaps some means might be devised for protect- 
ing the fallen fruit from animals ; but I confess that no feas- 
ible one occurs to me. 

These two nut-trees are valuable in other respects. Both 
of them, it is said, furnish excellent timber for ship-building ; 
the fibrous bark of the Bertholletia is used for calking canoes, 
for stuffing saddles, and so on ; probably it might make a 
good paper-fibre. But the Brazilians wisely discourage such 
destruction ; both the trees grow very slowly, and do not 

* Lecvthis ollaria. 

314 BRAZIL. 

bear fruit until they are very large. It would be a pity to 
spoil patriarchs that have been a thousand years or more in 

Sometimes my walks were along the edge of the flood- 
plains ; almost always there is a path running through the 
meadow-land, where it adjoins the forest ; and the plants and 
insects in such places are peculiar. In the dry season these 
paths are very pleasant ; but as the waters rise they become 
impassable, and then the only communication is by canoe. 
Most of the settlements are on projecting points of terra 
firme, and the paths cut across the bays of varzea between ; 
but the outline of the highland is so irregular, that a flood- 
season path from point to point would necessitate detours of 
ten or fifteen miles around the varzea bays. 

One of these summer paths leads from Curua to the 
neighboring settlement of MaciLvdy about two miles. I will 
describe it, because it shows well the variety of ground that 
one finds along the edge of the Amazonian plains. At first 
the trail leads through a strip of low terra firme forest ; this 
is partly second growth, but so thick with saplings and mat- 

*A clear oil, like olive-oil, is obtained from the Brazil-nuts by the following pro- 
cess : The nuts are roasted and the meats extracted ; in this condition they have a 
very rich flavor. They are pounded in a wooden mortar, and pressed and strained 
in a iipiti, when the oil runs out. It is used for cooking and for lamps ; excellent 
white soap can be made from it. Another, clearer and sweeter oil, is obtained in a 
similar manner from unroasted nuts ; this is excellent for table use. See Barboza 
Rodriguez, Relatorio sobre o Rio Trombetas, p. 17. He suggests that, with proper 
machinery, the business of extracting this oil might be very profitable. Prepara- 
tions from the bark and nut-capsules are sometimes used in Brazil as emollient 
medicines, and for ague. Chernoviz (Formulario, eighth edition, p. 553) says that 
a decoction of the sapucaia-bark is prepared with eighteen parts of water to one 
part of bark. A tincture, sometimes used for catarrh, is made from the nut-cap- 
sules of the sapucaia, by keeping water in them for several hours. As a remedy, 
this water is taken, cold, as often as the patient desires. Only the fresh shells can 
be used. 


ted vines that it is almost impossible to leave the path at all. 
There are not many palms here ; the few scattered ones are 
spiny iiicumds* and small inarajdsA The trees are such as 
I have described elsewhere in the forest, slow-growing kinds, 
most of them, and valuable for timber. The ground is cov- 
ered with moss-like lycopodiums. 

A little farther on, the path descends almost impercepti- 
bly, and at once there is an entire change in the vegetation. 
This is baixa land, within reach of the river floods ; nearly 
all the trees are different from those of the main forest ; 
the majority are valueless for timber, too soft, and rotting 
easily. The scattered tucuma and maraja palms are replaced 
by groves of vmriLitLuriisX bristling with black spines like 
bayonets, and occasionally a clean-cut, stately iiauassii.% 
There are hardly any vines, and the undergrowth is made 
up of large-leaved, succulent plants ; royal weeds, that would 
be admirable if they were root bound in flower-pots, and shut 
up in conservatories. But, look you. Nature's conservatory 
has an art that you never dreamed of. These great, glossy 
leaves have three tints : one dark, almost black : that is the 
ground work, from diffuse light in the forest ; one bright 
color, white, like water against a clear sky : that is the re- 
flected sunlight; finally, an indescribable rich green, — chloro- 
phyl green, which no painter could ever imitate : you get 
that by refracted, not reflected, sunlight. || Well, but you 
spoil all this ; you take forest-plants and set them in the 
broad sunlight, so the three colors are all run together into 

* Astrocaryum tucuma. t Bactris, sp. var. 

+ Astrocaryum murumuru. § Attalea speciosa. 

II If you will see it to perfection, lie down under a great dock — I used to when I 
was a child — and watch the light filtered through these splendid shields and coming 
to your eyes like balm. 

3l6 BRAZIL. 

an ugly tint that Nature is ashamed of. She tries to better 
it by modifying the plant for its new life ; but she cannot do 
that in one or two generations ; give her time and she will 
arrange the chlorophyl, and shining cover, and wood-cells, so 
that you will have a plant for open sunlight ; but it will not 
be the forest-plant, any more than a poodle-dog is a wolf. 
At present your plant is good only in outline, and even that 
is not perfect, for the leaves are ashamed and headachey, and 
go drooping. 

Now see how Nature does it. She gives plenty of space 
to the dark groundwork, because she will not spoil her plan 
by excess of tinting. Then she sends light-streaks down 
through the forest-roof; half a dozen leaves catch them, and 
glow like diamonds. Then she drops a beam behind one or 
two great shields, and they turn semi-transparent and liquid 
with the magnificent chlorophyl green. Observe, she keeps 
the outlines ; as a whole, the work is perfect, and then she 
perfects perfection with these exquisite touches — these lights 
that have no outline. 

The soil in the high forest is sandy, and the ground is 
covered, as I have said, with lycopodiums or ferns ; but here 
in the baixas it is dark, bare clay, cracked where it has dried 
after the floods. This open forest is very characteristic of 
the lowlands ; in most places you can walk between the trees 
without much difficulty. 

After this, the path emerges from the forest and crosses a 
great tongue of open meadow-land, which reaches for two or 
three miles into the terra firme. This meadow is not clean 
grass-land, such as we see about some of the varzea-lakes ; it 
has thickets of prickly mimosas — long lines, always parallel 
to the forest-edge, — and everywhere there are bright flower- 
ing weeds of fifty kinds. In the middle of the meadow there 


Is a stream that we must cross — a row of pools, hardly seen 
in the grass, but marked here and there by small, fan-leaved 
palms, carandsy" As at Curicaca, the great tongue of mea- 
dow-land is the flood-plain of the little igarape. 

Generally a few cattle are grazing on the meadow and 
pushing their way through the mimosa-thickets. Flocks of 
black japi'i birds f flutter in the bushes and whistle plaintive- 
ly ; there are troupials, with bright red breasts,:]; and roiixi- 
7iols,% like orioles, and smaller birds without number ; for 
these strips of meadow are favorite feeding-places for the 
lowland birds. I found insects on the mimosa-bushes, but 
the species were not numerous. There were plenty of 
ground-beetles, difficult to find except when they were fly- 
ing in the twilight ; then I caught them by hundreds. Most 
of the meadow insects are gregarious ; the forest species are 
solitary, and much more difficult to find. 

On the other side of this tongue of lowland, the terra- 
firme forest comes down to the meadow, and here there is 
another set of plants. The superb uauassii palm is in its 
glory — smooth-stemmed, straight as an arrow, and the broad, 
shining leaves twenty-five feet long. Back of these there 
are thick-leaved trees, some of them peculiar to the ground ; 
you see patauds || taking the place of the uauassiis ; and 
back of all is the great, rolling forest, the Brazil-nut trees 
towering over it with domes a hundred feet across : all this 
in contrast to the sunny meadows, and the placid lake, and 
the cloudless sky. 

Lake jMacura receives a little tortuous igarape ; it is nar- 
row, and deep, and swift, navigable for large canoes, and 

•* Mauritia carana. t Cassicus cristatus ? 

X Trupialis Guianensis. § Cassicus, sp. 

Ij CEnocarpus pataua. 



the banks are sharply cut. These features distinguish it 
from cabeceiras, that come from springs in the terra firme, 
and subside into rows of pools when they enter the points 

ofvarzea. The 
Maniatirii is a 

fiiro, flowing 
from the Ama- 
z o n s below 
Obidos ; it is 
miles long, at 
least, and com- 
municates with 
a dozen lakes. 
Through Lake 
Macura its 
waters join 
those of the 
Curua, and so 
the highland 
river, before it 
flows into Lake 
Curua, gets its 
little contribu- 
tion of Ama- 
zonian water, 

Highland Stream. 

just as the Tapajos does. This is a rule which hardly varies 
with the Amazonian tributaries. 

I made the acquaintance of the Macura peasants ; simple 
people, like the rest, and lazy, of course. These afternoon 
landscapes have such an endless repose about them : no 
more idea of activity than one of the cows, dreamily chew- 


ing her cud out there on the meadow. The trees are asleep, 
the plains are asleep, the lake is asleep ; and mine host 
lounges in his hammock, and is drowsy, whether he will own 
it or not. Sit you in another hammock, and drowse or 
sleep ; do not disturb his repose : so shall it be sweet. 

But back of the forest I found a bit of the outside world. 
One morning I walked up to the head of this tongue of 
meadow-land that I have described ; it ended in a strip of 
baixa forest, through which there flowed a bright, sparkling 
stream ; you would not have recognized it in the sluggish 
pools below. In the baixa I found tree-ferns indescrib- 
able, and lovely assai palms ; on the other side there was a 
neat clearing, and a man planting tobacco in it. He was a 
middle-aged man, thin and dark, evidently a half-breed ; he 
had a little house in the clearing, and his nicely-dressed wife 
was sitting inside, sewing. 

The man had come from the mining districts of Southern 
Brazil ; he had wandered over the province of Para, every- 
where seeking for gold, with that hopefulness that is the 
gold-seeker's blessing or curse. He took me back five or six 
miles into the forest, and showed me where he had washed 
sand from the bed of a stream ; the stream was full of diorite 
and sandstone bowlders, but I saw no proof of gold, and told 
him so. He said he had seen a gold specimen from this very 
place ; an Alenquer man had shown it to him at Para, and 
you could not deceive him, an old miner. These mythical 
specimens are forever spoken of on the Amazons, but I could 
never get a sight of one that was more than pyrites or mica. 
I see no reason why there should not be gold to the north 
and south of the Amazons, but I question if it has ever been 

My wealth-seeking friend had a fine little plantation, and 

320 BRAZIL. 

a pleasant home, as things go with the peasants ; he was 
sober and industrious in the main, which they are not, al- 
ways. But their happiness was not his : he lacked content- 
ment. His sharp eyes wandered restlessly ; he asked me 
questions about my travels, and the rivers I had explored. 
He must go to Para, he said ; the children there — two naked, 
brown cherubs — were still pagans {i. e., unbaptized), and 
should be made Christians at the capital ; for no, Senhor, 
the Alenquer priest could not do it. Captain T. had prom- 
ised to stand their godfather, and the captain was to be 
sought in Para, and in fact, they must all go down there as 
soon as the harvest was in ; they could return, etc., etc. All 
of which meant that he had been in one spot long enough. 
Well, here was a man a shade more intelligent than the In- 
dians ; consequently, better able to take care of himself ; but 
he went twitching all over in a nervous seeking for wealth 
he would never get, and change that would never satisfy him 
to his dying day ; and the Indians repose and are filled with 
peace. So goes the world ; and I have been pinning a 
homily to my physical geography. 

To return to Curua : Braz Correa, as I have said, was the 
village schoolmaster ; a jolly, twinkling, good-natured old 
fellow, whose school was his pride and delight. There was 
no priest in the settlement ; but Braz, an enthusiast in mu- 
sic, taught the young people to sing very sweetly. They 
gathered, every Saturday night, in the tiny thatched chapel, 
and chanted the beautiful, plaintive Portuguese hymns, with 
voices so clear and pure that the boatmen on the river paused 
to hear them, and one by one the villagers gathered before 
the chapel door with uncovered heads and whispered words. 
The old man stood there before the shrine, happy in the con- 
sciousness of his high position, devotional but watchful, a 


leader, every inch of him. I thought to myself, how much 
purer in spirit this man was than the unctuous, bad-faced 
Alenquer priest, mumbling through a mass that was profanity 
on such lips. Braz Correa would have bowed low before 
him, and taken his dirty blessing as pure gold. Well, even 
the priest could not have spoiled a blessing for Braz ; the 
gold comes from a higher source. 

One day the schoolmaster's baby-grandchild died, very 
suddenly. The mother had called me in haste to know if I 
could save it ; but the disease — a very bad case of croup — 
was far beyond my poor little medicine-case. The woman 
was very grateful, nevertheless. Next morning Braz came 
to me, with an important face, and his tightly-buttoned, cere- 
monious coat. The child, he said, was to be buried as an 
anginho, little angel, and he ventured to ask so distinguished 
a gentleman, etc., etc. — in short, would I come to the funeral ? 
I went, of course. Half the people in the village were there, 
most of the crowd barefooted and coatless, but as well-behaved 
as one could wish. Braz showed me into a room, where mu- 
sicians were tuning their instruments : a violin, a flute, and a 
drum. Presently the little corpse was brought in and laid on 
a table. The women had dressed it in some pretty light 
muslin, on which gilt stars were pasted ; puffs at the shoul- 
ders represented wings ; a paper crown was on the head, and 
the hands held a paper-covered sceptre. The body rested in 
a frame or box, like a truncated wedge ; the frame was 
covered with bright red calico ; the bottom was of cloth, 
instead of boards. Two boys, pupils in the schools, were 
deputed to carry the box ; four ribbons, attached to the body, 
were given to as many men of the party, Braz assigning to 
me the place of honor, on the right side in front. Now the 

musicians struck up a lively tune, and a rocket or two whizzed 

322 BRAZIL. 

outside the door ; so the procession filed out, the body fol- 
lowing, and the women of the family mingling with the other 
villagers behind. We turned off through a coffee-orchard, 
where we had to stoop to avoid the branches. Beyond this, 
in an open field, the grave had been dug. There was no 
further ceremony ; one of the boys took the body, box and 
all, in his arms, and laid it in the grave. Somebody cried 
that the head Vv^as toward the west, — a violation, I suppose, 
of the usage here ; when this was righted, the cover was laid 
over the box. Whether the frame was too low, or whether 
the cloth bottom, resting on the uneven surface, left a projec- 
tion under the head, certain it is that the cover rested on the 
child's nose. One of the boys observed this, and stamped It 
down with his heel, the others looking on unconcernedly. 
Then every one pulled in a little earth with the hands,* and 
Braz left two to fill the grave, while the crowd went back, 
laughing and talking. 

I remained at Curua for more than a week, and finally left 
the village, with a small but good crew of three men. Much 
against my will, I was obliged to leave Antonio behind ; little 
Feliciano, I felt sure, was too young to brave the fevers and 
exposure of the upper river, and the father utterly refused to 
part with him, though I offered to pay for the child's board 
during our absence. He thanked me for my offer, and went 
away, finally, with perfect good nature. I heartily recom- 
mend him to any traveller that may pass that way. 

The river above Curua varies in width from one hundred 
and fifty to three hundred yards ; the current, as I found it 
in October, is moderately rapid, and the channel pretty deep ; 

^ This was an aboriginal custom with certain tribes of the Tupi race ; it is found 
also in the Old World, and traces of it have survived in our church and masonic 
burial services. 



water slightly clay-stained, gray or brown. After passing 
the village, the banks, for a long distance, are steeply cut, 
and lined with varzea woods — rich masses coming down to 
the water's edge, and leaving only glimpses of the shadowy 
crlades within. Most of the trees are like those lining; the 
main Amazons from the Rio Negro to the Xingu ; exogen- 
ous species, with only a few palms scattered here and there. 
On the western side, 
this varzea-forest is 
continuous with that 
of the highland ; to 
the east, it forms a 
narrow strip, beyond 
which there are open 
meadows extending 
to Alenquer. At 
long intervals we 
passed little settle- 
ments on the banks, 
four or five houses 
together. I jotted 
down their sonorous 
Indian names on my 
sketch-map, with the 
points and bends as 
we went by them. Even the sand-banks have names ; the 
first is only a few miles above the village, and from thence to 
the falls, every one is written down in my note-book. 

The last houses on the main river are at Urucuritiia, per- 
haps twenty miles above Curua ; here we stopped for the 
night, the Indian owner receiving us very hospitably. In 
the end, he agreed to go with me to the falls, and he proved 

Tne River-snore, Curua. 

324 BRAZIL. 

a most welcome addition to my small crew. The men were 
all in good spirits, and thoroughly enjoying the trip, so that 
everything, thus far, was as it should be. 

A mile above Urucuritua, we visited the singular little 
Igarapc'-picJiiina (Black Creek), which flows out of the Curua, 
entering it again five miles below, so as to cut off a large 
island. This island is not a mere tract of the flood-plain ; it 
contains high as well as low land, and the igarape is a se- 
ries of pools and lakes rather than a steady stream ; the water 
is dark with vegetable matter, and covered everywhere with 
beautiful aquatic plants. A mile from the river we found a 
fisherman's camp, with festoons of pirarucii drying all around 
it ; the pools were full of fish, which had hardly been touched 
before, so the harvest was remarkably abundant. 

Towards noon we passed the little river Mamia, flowing 
into the Curua from the west ; it is navigable only for a short 
distance. At four o'clock in the afternoon we landed on the 
eastern side, where was a path running across to the Igai^apc 
Capail ; here lived the negro, Manuel, of great fame in these 
parts. Manuel had been chief of a colony of fugitive slaves, 
which was located for a long time on the Upper Curua ; as 
these negroes were the only people who knew anything 
about the falls, I was naturally anxious to secure one for a 
guide. While at Curua, I had heard much of Manuel, who 
lived, so it was said, in the deep woods, fearing to see a 
white man, lest he should be carried back into slavery ; to 
gain his good-will I had sent him some trifling presents, 
with word that I would call on him on my way up the river. 
We crossed now to the igarape, a sluggish row of pools, like 
the Igarape-pichuna ; there was no sign of a habitation on 
the farther bank ; but after much calling, a canoe appeared, 
paddled by Manuel's two strapping sons. They were naked 



to the waist, and looked wild enough ; I could hardly un- 
derstand their broken negro-Portuguese. However, they 
greeted me cordially, and put me across the igarape to a 
little hidden path among the bushes ; following this for a 
quarter of a mile, w^e came out to a tiny plantation, where 
were two palm-thatched huts, so small and mean that any 

Manuel's Hut. 

Indian would have been ashamed of them. Manuel was 
seated before one hut, smoking a clay pipe, while his little, 
fat wife superintended a kettle of monkey-broth near by. 
He rose to meet me — a grizzled old man, slightly bent, but 
bright-eyed and strong-limbed as you would wish to see. 
For thirty years at least he had lived in the forest, only 
visiting the settlements by stealth, and at long intervals. 

The Curua miicainbo (so they call these colonies) ex- 
isted as early as the beginning of the century, and perhaps 
long before. At first it was located near the lower falls, on 

326 BRAZIL. 

the Igarape Branco ; after an inroad of soldiers, the negroes 
fled up the river, and estabhshed themselves far above the 
falls ; years later they were driven out again, and then they 
fled still farther to the unknown interior. They had planta- 
tions of mandioca, and the river gave them plenty of fish ; 
gradually new parties came to join them, until the mucambo 
numbered two hundred souls or more. Sometimes they 
came down to Alenquer by a secret path through the woods, 
entering the village at night to exchange their forest produce 
for knives, guns, powder, etc. ; certain merchants had a reg- 
ular trade with them, always carried on clandestinely, of 
course, but every one knew that such a business existed, and 
two or three men were strongly suspected of having a hand 
in it. 

In 1876, people heard with astonishment that the Curua 
imicamhistos had voluntarily given themselves up to the 
authorities at Alenquer. The reason given was, that per- 
nicious fevers had appeared above the falls, carrying off a 
large number of the negroes. Be this as it may, a great 
wooden canoe appeared at Alenquer, with one hundred and 
sixty-seven fugitives on board. The most of them were re- 
turned to their masters ; I was told that those who had been 
born in the mucambo — a large number — were set at liberty. 
Manuel was freed, and this, with other circumstances, led to 
the pretty general supposition that the fevers, after all, were 
not the prime cause of the exodus. It was whispered that 
the mucambistos came down on Manuel's representation that 
they would receive their liberty ; that his own freedom was 
the price of his treachery. I could not discover if there was 
any truth in these rumors ; the old man sedulously avoided 
all allusion to the subject, and I did not care to irritate him 
by useless questions. 



There was still a remnant of the colony left above the 
falls. The Delegado de Policia at Alenquer sent a party of 
soldiers to dislodge them, and they did finally succeed in 
bringing them all away ; but not until the soldiers, and ne- 
groes too, had suffered fearfully from the fevers. Many 
died ; not one of the soldiers, it is said, escaped without a 
long sickness. 

There are other mucambos scattered about the Amazonian 
tributaries; one, on the Curua de Santarem, numbers some 
hundred souls. * But the most extensive of all is on the 
Upper Trombetas. If we can believe the common report, it 
contains over two thousand negroes, many of whom have 
never seen a white man. Several attempts have been made 
to break up this village, but each expedition has returned 
with fever and disappointment ; the negroes burn their huts 
and fly to the woods on the slightest alarm. The fugitives 
know the country, but the soldiers are utterly ignorant of it ; 
they wander vainly about the rapids until the dreaded ague 
seizes them, and they are glad enough to get away with their 
lives. Obidos merchants enrich themselves, trading with the 
fugitives, who come down at all seasons, and even in broad 
daylight, bringing tobacco and forest drugs for sale. Some- 
times they are recognized, but they always get away in time, 
and the traders give early warning of any fresh raid. It is 
said that these Trombetas negroes have indirect communica- 
tion with Guiana, trading through the medium of Indian 
tribes who inhabit the mountain region. f The Trombetas 

* Recently, I am told, this colony has been driven out by an incursion of Indians 
from the interior. 

t It is so stated in a letter of Joao Maximiano de Souza, leader of one of the ex- 
peditions against this Trombetas colony. The letter was published in the ^^Baixo 
Amazonas^'' a Santarem journal. 

328 BRAZIL. 

mucambistos are greatly feared by the Brazilians, who de- 
clare that no man's life is safe among them. However, a 
friend of mine visited some of their villages, and he found 
them very well-disposed people, not a little afraid of their 
guest. Let us hope that when the emancipation law has 
done its work, these half-savage villages may become useful 
and civilized communities. 

Manuel would not go with me ; he was old, he said, and 
could not brave the rapids again ; besides, he must make a 
clearing for next year's planting. Luckily, however, I found 
another negro here, one Rufino, who had been born in the 
mucambo, and was therefore free. After much talking, I 
persuaded him to go to the falls with me, but he declared 
that my canoe was too large for the ascent ; it would have to 
be dragged around the rapids, and with my small force this 
would be almost impossible. I had, indeed, tried to get a 
smaller canoe for the falls, but none was to be had at Curua. 
It was now too late to remedy the error, and I resolved to 
go on with the boat I had, trusting to find the obstacles less 
formidable than they were reported. I have since regretted 
that I did not go back to Curua, or even to Alenquer, for 
a small canoe. 

We camped, for this night, by the Capaii path ; luckily, 
I had a mosquito-net to throw over my hammock, but the 
men suffered grievously. In the morning we were off be- 
times, making quick progress now, with five stout paddlers. 
The river, through all this region, is shallow, with numerous 
sand-islands. In long dry seasons, it is reduced to a mere 
row of pools, with a thin stream connecting them. The 
flood-plain is narrowed, so that little points of terra firme 
appear at short intervals. I never had any difficulty in 
recognizing these points ; even when they were hardly raised 


above the varzea, the changed vegetation was an unfailing 
mark. The varzea woods are darker and more varied ; 
there are urucury * and maraja f palms, taking the place 
of the great uauassus | and inajas § of the terra firme ; above 
all, the giant Brazil-nut trees always indicate high land, 
even far back from the river. 

Shortly above Capau, Rufino pointed out some deserted 
houses, where the mucambistos had lived for a time, after 
they descended the river. At this place, Pacoval, I made a 
lucky geological discovery. There were banks of clay by 
the river, and I noticed two or three bits of shale rock crop- 
ping out from it ; digging away the clay, I uncovered a large 
bed of the shale, much decomposed, but full of beautiful 
fossil-shells, all of the Carboniferous Period. On my return, 
I made a very large collection here. 

I found fossils, also, on the great sand-bank called Praia 
Grande. The bank was more than half a mile long, dividing 
the river into two channels ; portions were high above the 
water, and covered with bushes and small trees ; on the low- 
est parts there was only pure, white sand, with little rows of 
pebbles at intervals. Here I filled my hat with nicely pre- 
served, silicified fossils ; they were lying loose on the surface, 
and had evidently been washed out from some limestone 
layer above, for I found fragments of the rock still adhering 
to them ; but the limestone must have been under water, for 
I could find no trace of it along the banks. The fossils were 
like those of Itaituba, on the Tapajos ; no doubt they belong 
to the same great layer of limestone, which runs through the 
whole Lower Amazons. 

It is curious to nqte the sorting power of running water in 

* Attalea excelsa. t Bactris, sp. 

X Attalea speciosa. % Maximiliana regia. 

330 BRAZIL. 

such places. Here, as in the Amazons, the sand-banks were 
always separated from islands of clay and mud on the one 
hand, or of stones on the other ; coarse sand was in one 
place, and fine in another, and the pebbles were gathered 
into little heaps and rows. You will see something of the 
same thing along pebbly and sandy shores in the United 

The men had been making a more satisfactory gathering 
than fossils and pebbles. Rufino w^as at it first, probing the 
sand with a sharpened stick for the delicious turtle-eggs. 
Where the stick came out stained with the yolks, he went 
down on his knees, and scraped away the sand until the 
treasure was uncovered : twenty-five, thirty, even forty w^hite 
eggs, with a flexible covering like parchment. These were 
the tracajds' * eggs, oval in shape, and not much larger than 
those of a pigeon ; but sometimes a tartartigas^ nest was 
discovered, and then there was a rush for the prize ; the eggs 
of this turtle are nearly as large as hens' eggs, perfectly 
spherical, and often we found a hundred and thirty or more 
in one hole. We boiled them w^ith our fish and game ; only 
the yolk hardens, and it is very mealy and delicate. The 
men ate the eggs raw also, and those containing young turtles 
were regarded as a delicacy ; I confess that my stomach was 
not equal to these latter. For days I feasted on boiled tur- 
tle-eggs, and never tired of them. The Indians come up 
from Curua, and even from Alenquer, to explore the sand- 
banks, and often they return with their canoes full of eggs ; 
it is a wonder that any are left. 

We seldom saw the turtles ; one or two, that we caught 
on the sand-banks, were speedily consigned to our kettles. 

* Emys tracaja. t Podocnemis expansa. 


The tracaja Is twenty inches long at the utmost ; the tartaru- 
gas are much larger, even three feet across the shell at times, 
and one of them will furnish a good meal for ten or fifteen 
men. The turtles come up on the sand-banks at night, to 
lay their eggs ; the holes are carefully covered, and every 
trace of disturbance, and even of the footprints, is smoothed 
over, so that even the sharp-eyed Indians often fail to detect 
the nests. The little turtles come up in time, with their 
mouths full of sand ; they speedily make for the river, and 
there encounter a host of enemies in the alligators and larger 
fishes ; they are pursued on land by various birds ; and the 
old turtles are often seized upon by jaguars, who scrape out 
the shells as cleanly as a knife could do it. Notwithstanding 
all this, the turtles are as numerous as they were years ago ; 
on the Upper Amazons many thousands of them are captured 
every year and kept in pens for the winter's supply ; the 
eggs, also, are obtained in immense quantities, and crushed 
in great troughs to obtain a rich oil which rises on the 

As we left Praia Grande, Pedro caught a glimpse of a 
swimming turtle before the canoe ; in an instant the fellow 
was overboard after it, amid the laughter of the whole crew. 
However, he landed his prize very neatly, and was not a 
little proud of it, as he had a right to be, for it is no easy 
task to catch a swimming turtle in deep water. 

We were out of the mosquito region now ; the little pests 
keep to lowland channels, and above Praia Grande the banks 
of the Curua are all high. So we slept unmolested, camping 
on a high ledge of rocks by the shore, where the forest was 
wild and thick. Only the Brazil-nut gatherers and turtle- 
hunters come up so far ; the whole region is an unbroken 
wilderness, deserted even by the wild Indian tribes. For at 

112 BRAZIL. 

least a hundred miles to the north, there was not a single 
human being, tame or wild, red or white or black. 

Our afternoon camps were always a pleasure to me. As 
soon as we landed, Pedro ran to swing my hammock from 
the trees, and in five minutes a cup of delicious coffee was 
handed to me. The men, meanwhile, were beating the water 
for piranha fish, or hunting the woods ; they never failed to 
bring something for our dinner — fish, or paca, or motum- 
bird, or monkey. The game was roasted over the fire ; we 
had mandioca-meal and biscuits, and the men were made 
happy with abundance of hot coffee and sugar, and a dram 
at nightfall ; they had never fared so well with the traders. 
With my cigarette alight, I listened to their stories and jokes 
until the fire burned low and they all dropped asleep. 

One morning I found fresh jaguar tracks within ten yards 
of my hammock ; but we were never disturbed, and I doubt 
if the animals would ever attack a camp in any case. There 
must be numbers of the great cats in these woods. Several 
times I saw the smaller, spotted kinds ; and once, as we were 
moving up the river, we noticed a large red panther * stand- 
ing on a shelving rock and drinking quietly. Two of the men 
fired at it with charges of buckshot, and I added a ball from 
my revolver ; but the range was a long one, and the lead 
rattled harmlessly on the rock. The panther gave a great 
leap straight into the air, just as you have seen a frightened 
cat do ; then bolted for the forest with all speed, and that 
was the last we saw or heard of it. 

Frequently we saw bands of beautiful brown otters f 
swimming against the current and raising themselves in the 
water to eye us curiously. They abound in all of the branch 

* P'elis concolor. t Lutra Braziliensis. 


rivers. Frequently the young otters are tamed, and one that 
I saw at Curua was as docile as any dog, diving and playing 
with the little naked boys from morning to night. When 
hungry, it cried plaintively, until bits of fish were brought for 
it to eat ; but the Indians said that it would soon learn to fish 
for itself. 

This part of the Curua was full of sand-shallows, so that 
often we had to dodge from side to side to avoid them. The 
channel was narrower, too : sometimes not more than eight 
yards across. The picturesque cliffs were all overhung with 
glorious forest, piled a hundred feet above the ground, and 
dropping great festoons of vines to the water's edge. 

At length we reached a stony shallow, where the current 
was too strong for the paddlers ; the men cut poles and 
pushed us along easily, until we came to a more formidable 
rapid above ; here they jumped overboard, and pulled the 
boat through with much shouting and laughter. Half a mile 
of still water followed, with the ever-increasing roar beyond, 
until a long line of foam came in sight — the Cachoeira da 
Lontra ; we were fairly among the falls. 

The camp was made here, for I knew that we had hard 
work before us ; plenty of daylight and fresh muscle we 
would need for it. The river rushes through a narrow chan- 
nel, pounding against the great rocks, whirling, and eddy- 
ing, and leaping down to black caves, and lashing itself into 
white foam. On the right side there is an immense, flat table 
of sandstone rock, slanting southwest towards the rapid : the 
surface worn into deep ''pot-holes," and all black with the 
wash of water during the floods. A little clear brook flows 
a quarter of a mile over this table, and enters the river just 
above the rapid. On the other side, there are high cliffs, 
where I found plenty of fossil shells, Lower Devonian forms, 

334 BRAZIL. 

much resembling those that we used to get in the Oriskany 
sandstone of New York State.* Here was work enough for 
the remaining two hours of dayhght. I hammered lustily, 
surrounded, meanwhile, by swarms of pmm-fi[Qs,f which lit 
on my hands and face and sucked their fill of blood. The 
piums are much like our " black flies," and belong, indeed, 
to the same family; the larvae live in swift- running water ; 
hence the flies are always seen about rapids and falls. Dif- 
ferent species inhabit the various tributaries and the Upper 
Amazons, The Tapajos pium always leaves a little drop 
of blood under the skin, to the great irritation of nervous 
persons ; this Curua species difiers in that the blood oozes 
out from the wound and collects on the surface, causing no 
further annoyance. While hammering on one rock, my left 
hand lay idle for a few moments, and the flies collected on 
it by scores ; when I brushed them away one would have 
thought that I had a red glove on ; the blood trickled down 
in great drops. However, the piums were troublesome only 
for an hour or two, before sunset, and in the early morning ; 
a bath made all right ; we ate our supper in peace, by the 
light of a blazing fire, and slept quietly, free from the worse 
plague of mosquitoes. 

The rapid was worse than it looked. One of the men 
went ahead to drag on a long rope. The rest were in the 
water up to their breasts, I dragging my little with the crew, 
and holding to the canoe for dear life when I was jerked ofl" 
my feet. It was a long pull and a hard one, but we reached 

* One of the most characteristic fossils is a Rensellaria, but others are hke those 
of the Corniferous Limestone and the Hamilton Group ; so that the horizon indi- 
cated would be somewhat higher than the Oriskany. These sandstones were first 
discovered on the Maecuru by Prof Derby, Dr. Freitas, and myself. 

t Trombidium, sp. ? 


the top at last, and paddled on through nearly a mile of still 
water, to the next cachoeii^a. 

There was no passing over this. It was a perpendicular 
fall, twelve or fifteen feet high ; horseshoe in shape, like a 
miniature Niagara. Bem-fica^ it is well named by the ne- 
groes : '^ Stay-there," " Thus far and no farther." Rufino had 
warned me that I would never get my heavy canoe by this 
obstacle. However, I was determined to try, and a shelving 
sand-bank at the side gave me some hope of success. The 
canoe was unloaded, and the men were dispatched to the 
woods for poles and rollers ; with these we constructed a 
kind of corduroy road over the sand. With immense labor 
the canoe was dragged half-way up, and there it stuck fast; 
not levers, nor rollers, nor ropes turned about trees, could 
get it an inch farther. The men worked nobly; I offered 
them a day's wages extra if we surmounted this obstacle, but 
they did not need that incentive. After four hours I was 
obliged to acknowledge that we were beaten. My elaborate 
preparations had been useless ; the one mistake of bringing a 
heavy canoe had ruined everything. These boats are made 
of itaiiba, stone-wood, which well deserves its name, for it is 
intensely hard and heavy. My canoe was none too large for 
the crew and provisions, but I should have brought two small 
ones in place of it, or better, perhaps, one made of light wood, 
like cedj'O* 

From Rufino I gathered many notes about the Upper 
Curua. It flows from the north, through a hilly country, 
with numerous rapids and falls ; two or three days' journey 
above the last niiicantbo there are open lands, canipinas^ 

* A pair of light wheels, made to slip under the canoe, would be very useful ; 
but travellers who expect to do good work on the tributaries should have boats 
made for the service. 

336 BRAZIL. 

Stretching up to the mountains, and occupied by a few sav- 
age Indians. The negroes had little to do with these In- 
dians, but they gave them a very bad name. I fancy that 
they would prove no worse than other wandering tribes, 
who are good or bad according to the mood in which one 
may find them.* 

We dragged our clumsy craft down to the water's edge 
again, and reloaded it. Returning through the Lontra rap- 
ids, we had a narrow escape from utter wreck. The canoe 
got across the current, and was dashed against a rock, splin- 
tering the bottom and nearly pitching the cargo overboard. 
Fortunately, the crack was a small one, and we stopped it 
up with strips of cloth ; beyond this we had no difficulty, 
and before night we were safe in the still water below. 

I now determined to explore the little Igarape BrancOy 
which enters the Curua from the east, just below the falls ; 
the position promised me some important geological results. 
It is a narrow channel, between high, gloriously wooded 
banks, the Brazil-nut trees rising over all. The forest is full 
of old trails ; for, wild as it appears, the region is visited 

* According to Rufino and Manuel, the succession of rapids and falls, beginning 
below, is as follows ; the names were all given by the negroes : i. Cachoeirinha ; 
2. Lontra; 3. Bem-fica ; then, in close order, 4, Mae Isabel; 5. Japim ; 6. Josepha 
Torrena; 7. Mundurucu ; 8. Brigadeiro, a very difficult rapid. After these there is 
Stillwater for a day's journey; then follow, 9. Cachoeirinha; 10. Trabalhado ; 11. 
Botamy ; 12. Sucuruju ; 13. Piranha; 14. Paciencia ; 15. Monte Negro. Now again 
there is a clear space for half a day; then the two rapids, 16. Bahia, and 17. Con- 
ceigao ; still water for a day, or two days, with the single rapid, 18. Botos ; follow- 
ing this comes a long sweep in a narrow chasm ; this is called, 19. Solapo, and can 
only be passed by land ; 20. Perdido ; 21. Chico Mulato ; and 22. Tira-faca, bringing 
one to the site of the old mucambo, which was broken up many years ago ; beyond 
these follow, 23. Parente Joaquim ; then a very long stretch of still water, at least a 
day's journey ; then falls again : 24. Furo Grande ; 25. Pagao Dezina, which is just 
below the last negro settlement, now entirely abandoned. Beyond this there are 
innumerable rapids to the cMnpinas. 


every year by scores of nut-gatherers. We pushed on for 
two or three miles, until we came to a shallow ; here the 
camp was pitched ; no palms at hand for a thatched hut, and 
a drizzling rain fell in the evening, so that we were thor- 
oughly wet and uncomfortable. In the morning I waited 
only for a cup of coffee, expecting to return for breakfast. 
We followed, on foot, as well as we could, along the 
banks, probably for two miles ; but the forest was thick and 
matted, and I could make out nothing of the geological sec- 
tion that I was seeking. Turning again to the stream, we 
began to wade up along the channel, often to our waists in 
the water, and working against a rapid current ; in this way 
we advanced, I suppose, a mile more, and my geological 
studies grew more interesting with every step. In the 
water we worked, the men breaking up great rocks for me ; 
through a pelting shower, and a drizzling rain that followed 
it ; without food all day, for we had brought none with us ; 
soaked, and chilled, and weary, until nightfall, when we re- 
turned to camp through the dripping woods, nearly losing 
our way in the darkness. Everything about the canoe was 
soaked ; with difficulty we lighted a fire, holding a mat over 
the blaze until it was well started. The little thatched cabin 
was full of baggage, and it was too dark now to send to the 
forest for palm-leaves, so a shelter was out of the question. 
I put on dry clothes, and rolled myself in my blanket until 
supper was ready ; a scanty one, of roast monkey and man- 
dioca-meal, but I ordered unhmited coffee for the men, and 
gave to each one a dose of quinine ; for we were in the very 
worst part of the fever-region. After a while the rain ceased, 
but it came on again a little later, and continued until mid- 
night. I kept pretty dry under my blankets, though the 
men fared badly enough. When it stopped raining I had 


338 BRAZIL. 

coffee made for them again. I have always found that this 
is the best guard against miasma. 

The nut-gatherers about the Igarape Branco are almost 
sure to have attacks of ague or pernicious fever, but notwith- 
standing all our exposure here, none of the party were any 
the worse for it. When we finally returned to Curua, a week 
later, every man was in good health and spirits : Joao came 
to me voluntarily, and proposed that we should go to the 
falls with a light canoe ; and the other men would have ac- 
companied me willingly. Among the Indians, especially, I 
have found that when a workman is well treated he will go 
to the end of the earth with his employer ; only, in a bad 
situation, he is likely to desert, just as a child will run away 
from danger. On a difficult canoe-voyage it is better to be 
familiar with the crew, and allow them to regard you, in 
some measure, as one of them, but without sacrificing a 
proper dignity ; then they may refuse to go farther, but they 
will never desert you without warning. 

Before leaving this region, let us review the geography of 
the river and its valley. The Curua, in all probability, takes 
its rise on the southern slope of the Guiana mountains, some- 
where about lat. i° or i° 30', N., and long. 55° W. G. ; it 
flows, approximately, south. As far as lat. i° S. it is much 
obstructed by rapids and falls ; from the Cachoeirinha down, 
there are no obstructions except sand-banks, and the river 
would be navigable for steamboats during the flood season. 
This navigable portion is about eighty miles long, with all its 
curves ; but a straight line from the falls to Lake Curua, 
would hardly measure more than fifty-five miles ; the gen- 
eral course, in this portion, is south-southwest. The only 
tributaries of any importance are the Igarape Branco, from 
the east, near the falls, and the Mamia, from the west, thirty 


miles farther south ; neither of these streams is navigable. 
The mouth of the river, in Lake Curua, is approximately in 
lat. i" 53' S. and long. 55° 5' W. G. Before entering the 
lake, the river receives a small portion of water through the 
Furo de Bare, which flows out of Lake Macura. Macura 
receives its water from the Amazons just below Obidos, by 
the long Furo de Mamauru. The combined flood emerges 
from Lake Curua, at the eastern end, by the Igarape do 
Lago, or Igarape d'Alenquer. This is a deep channel, flow- 
ing in a general easterly direction, about fifty miles ; receiv- 
ing Amazonian water by a short channel; and finally emerg- 
ing into the Amazons, near Lake Paracary, in about lat. 
2° 5' S. and long. 54° 25' W. G. The whole navigable ex- 
tent, by the Igarape d'Alenquer, Lago de Curua, and the 
river itself, is about one hundred and thirty-five miles. The 
flood-plain of the Curua extends far up towards the falls ; on 
the lower course it widens out rapidly, and the terra firme 
attains the river only at long intervals, as at Curua ; the Iga- 
rape d'Alenquer touches the terra firme only at Alenquer. 
The Curua flood-plain meets a great bay of the Amazonian 
varzea, extending from Obidos to near Lago Grande de 
Monte Alegre, where it is joined to another great bay at 
the mouth of the Maecurii. Opposite the mouth of the 
Curua, the Amazonian flood-plain is at least eighty miles 
wide. We have seen how the outline of this great plain is 
broken into bays and prolongations. On the Lower Curua, 
and towards Alenquer, this irregularity is carried to its great- 
est extreme, so that the two kinds of land are mingled in in- 
extricable confusion ; islands of terra firme are strewn over 
the varzea, and lakes and bays of the lowland are almost 
cut ofl" from the main river-plain. I made two flying visits 
to the region northeast of Lake Curua. It is full of beautiful 

340 BRAZIL. 

lakes, lying against the terra firme islands ; the islands them- 
selves are generally of hard rock, diorite and sandstone, such 
as form ridges on the main-land. I never saw a more com- 
plicated tangle than this one, of high and low lands, meadow 
and forest, channels and lakes, swamps and dry lands, all 
within a few square miles of surface. Yet the distinctive 
characters of each kind of land are just as sharply defined as 
elsewhere ; in all my walks here I was never puzzled to dis- 
tinguish them, though I was passing from one to the other 
continually. One stretch of varzea meadow, ten miles long 
and as many wide, is cut off by a chain of these islands. 
This meadow is the cleanest and smoothest that I have seen 
on the Amazons ; for miles together one hardly finds a ditch, or 
a ridge, or a bush. I could not get rid of the impression that 
the whole district had been sunk bodily into the river-plain, 
leaving only the ridges to form little islands and peninsulas. 

The geology of the Curua region is as interesting, and 
almost as obscure, as that of the Paracary-Cujubim district. 
The coarse Tertiary (?) sandstones and clays, seen at Para- 
cary, occur again at Alenquer, and farther west on Lake 
Macura ; north of a straight line drawn between these two 
points, the rock is Palaeozoic, but often poorly exposed, or 
obscured by ridges of diorite and trap breccia. The general 
strike of the Palaeozoic rocks is about west-northwest, and 
they dip generally to the south-southeast at a small angle, 
never more than seven or eight degrees, and often much less. 
The Devonian rocks rest on hard sandstones, which may 
be either Devonian, or, more probably, Silurian. The un- 
doubtedly Devonian series includes at least five hundred feet 
of sandstones and shales ; following these come several hun- 
dred feet of sandstone, which may be Devonian or Carbonif- 
erous ; and finally the Carboniferous series, which must be 


many hundred, perhaps several thousand, feet thick, though 
the upper portion is worn away.* 

It looks prosy enough on paper ; but I long now for the 
romance of that wandering, open-air study, piecing and patch- 
ing together the sections that I found here and there ; compar- 
ing this with that, until the whole stood clear in my mind — 
until a foot of rock was a key to hundreds of feet below it, 
as an anatomist recognizes a species from a tooth or scale. 

*The succession of Palaeozoic rocks on the Curua, as far as I have observed 
them, is as follows, the thicknesses given being approximate. Beginning below: 

1. Hard gray or red sandstone, in heavy layers ; thickness unknown, but the 
corresponding beds on the Maecuru have been traced through several hundred feet. 

2. Sandstones, alternations of soft and hard layers, with Lower Devonian fossils, 
exposed at the Lontra fall. — 30 feet. 

3. Layers of hard, light purple sandstone, often with a flinty fracture, and resist- 
ing w^ell the action of the weather, so that it forms angular blocks along the river 
shore. Xo fossils. — 30 feet. 

4. Dark shales, more or less sandy. — 15 feet. 

5. Successions of dark shales and sandstones. — 50 feet. 

6. Fine, black shale, passing into Xo. 5. Contains large concretions of a hard, 
gray, argillaceous rock. — 30 feet. 

7. Red, sandy shales, full of Spirophytoti plants. In certain beds there are little 
nodulose bodies, which may be organic. — 10 feet. 

8. Similar to No. 7, but without Spirophyton. — 50 feet. 

Thus far we are clearly in the Devonian series. Following these are : 

9. A bed of rather coarse and hard, yellow sandstone. — 7 feet. 

10. Irregular, concretionary, argillaceous rock, reddish in color. — 75 feet. 

11. Heavy beds of sandstone, either fine and homogeneous in structure, or 
coarse, and full of pebbles and clay nodules. — 35 feet. 

12. Hard, fine, sandy shales. The surfaces often appear mottled, and the broken 
edges show beautiful laminations of greenish, yellow, black and white. — 100 feet. 

13. Coarse sandstones, often weathering into curious rounded forms. — 50 feet. 
None of the layers from Xo. 9 to Xo. 13 have yielded fossils, and we have no 

indication of their age. -\bove them there is a gap in the section, corresponding, 
probably, to a thickness of three hundred feet. Following this come the Carbon- 
iferous rocks, sandstones, and shales, with a bed of limestone near the bottom, in- 
dicated, on the Curua, only by silicified fossils and fragments of the matrix, picked 
up at Praia Grande. 



WE have been living at Monte Alegre, D. and F. and 
myself. D. is an American, geological explorer and 
fossil-describer, and thoroughly good fellow. F. is a young 
Brazilian, who ought to be a Yankee, for his energy and lack 
of kid-glovism are phenomenal under the tropics. We three 
are sitting before the door of our comfortable little house, 
chair-legs two inches deep in the sand ; handkerchiefs around 
our necks to keep off the mosquitoes which will soon appear; 
fragrant wreaths ascending from our cigarettes. 

But, before we go farther, let me introduce to you the 
port-village at Mojite Alegre, Joyful Mountain. The moun- 
tain itself is just behind us, and the village proper is on top 
of it, half a mile away ; this porto is built on a great sand- 
beach, fronting the canoe-landing and steamboat anchorage. 
There are adobe-houses, one story high, whitewashed until 
they are a degree more glaring than the sand ; one line 
fronts the beach, and others, behind, struggle up the slope 
in the outlines of two streets ; but there are no pavements, 
and the buildings look as though they had shifted a little 
with the wind-blown surface. Sand ankle-deep in the roads, 
broiling hot all day, white like snow in the moonlit nights ; 
but the hillsides beyond are wrapped with cool, green man- 


ties, and the tucuma-palms nod merrily to the east wind. 
Half a dozen trading canoes are anchored in the river, and 
smaller boats are pulled up on the sand. Three hundred 
yards across the channel there are beautiful, green varzea 
meadows, with a few trees along the banks ; up and down 
the shores are well wooded. As we sit now in the sunset, 
the fishermen begin to arrive from the neighboring lakes, 
and about the shore there is that subdued activity that al- 
ways precedes the close of the day. The little shops are 
filled with customers — Indians, and Portuguese, and ne- 
groes ; people are sitting in front of their houses, as we are, 
smoking after-dinner cigarettes, and chatting quietly. Good 
people are these at Monte Alegre ; men with hearts a thou- 
sand times greater than their purses, for the village is not a 
rich one, as the world goes. Whatever prosperity it has, 
comes from the pirarucu fisheries of the neighboring lakes, 
and the few herds of cattle on the campos ; perhaps I should 
add the painted calabashes, which the people ornament very 
prettily and export to all parts of the province. Agriculture 
hardly exists here. Near the village the land is unfit for cul- 
tivation ; neighboring Indian settlements have their planta- 
tions of mandioca, but these rarely produce a surplus for 
sale. Even oranges come from Erere, six or eight miles 

The upper village is about three hundred feet above the 
port ; you think it a thousand, toiling up the steep hillside 
road, and wiping the perspiration from your brow. The road 
is washed into great gullies, so that it is hardly passable for 
horses. Half-way from the bottom there is a little spring, 
flowing . across the road, and into a hollow below, where a 
great tub is placed to receive the tiny cascade. Here the 
water-jars are filled, night and morning ; all day the sandy 



slope is lively with washerwomen of every shade ; and at 
twilight the men and boys of the village come here to bathe, 
after their day's work. 

The hill is worth climbing, if only for the glorious view 
that one has from the summit. You look off over the lakes 
and channels and meadows of the lowland, and across to the 

Looking over the Lowlands fronn Monte Alegre. 

Amazons, and the blue terra firme of Taperinha and Santa- 
rem. Westward there are rugged hills of the Ererc chain, 
and lesser ones sweeping around to Tajiiri on the north, the 
highest of all, with its dome a thousand feet above the river ; 
no great elevation, it is true, but in this flat country the 
hills appear like mountains. To reach Erere or Tajuri you 
would have to cross a great tract of sandy campo, like that 
of Paracary and Santarem ; even in the village the ground is 
sandy and bare, and the few trees in the outskirts are campo 


species. The great square has no trees at all ; the houses 
around are neatly whitewashed, and there is a really hand- 
some church, the finest in the province, it is said, outside of 
Para. It was built a few years ago, to take the place of a 
tiny chapel which is still used for minor services. 

To return to our little party at the port village. We are 
discussing the pros and cons of a proposed trip to the river 
Maecuru. For a long time our hearts have been set on this 
journey. The Maecuru has never been explored ; we only 
know that it flows through the blue hills which we have 
seen, looking northward from the top of the Erere mountain. 
Every geologist gravitates to a hill country, as .a duck does 
to water. What if the journey be a hard one, with possi- 
ble danger and certain discomforts ; we have tangled ques- 
tions to solve, and the hills promise all if we can but reach 
them. '* So," says D., giving the final verdict, '' we will go 
to the Maecuru ; Sr. Valente has promised us a canoe ; the 
river is low now, and we have at least three weeks to spare. 
The only difficulty that I see, will be to find men for the 

I agree, of course. F., who has been studying English, 
says, " Very good." D. produces his tobacco-pouch, and in- 
vites us to roll fresh cigarettes, mildly adding: "Let's li- 
quor : " which phrase is intended for F.'s benefit ; the liquor 
is very innocent ginger-beer, sold in a neighboring shop. F. 
stares and says, '' Go wesht." You must know that we have 
been tormenting this OUendorf-student with a series of very 
idiomatic, American-Enghsh phrases ; a few he has learned, 
and throws back at us in random shots, sometimes hitting 
the mark, missing it comically when he half comprehends. 
But you should know F. to like him as we do ; all our chaff 
cannot ruffle his steady good-nature ; and beneath it there 

34^ BRAZIL. 

is a quick intellect, that will yet make him known among his 

It takes us two or three days to find men, and to ar- 
range supplies for the voyage ; the canoe must be calked, 
and letters must be written, and our time is well filled until 
we say adeos to our good friends, and embark from Monte 
Alegre. The boat is rather lighter than the one I used on 
the Curua trip ; barely large enough, in fact, for ourselves 
and luggage, and the fossils we may bring home. We have 
three men, and are depending on the lower Maecuru settle- 
ments for another. Altogether, we are well started. 

Within certain limits the Rio de Monte Alegre bears the 
same relation to the Maecuru, that the Igarape d'Alenquer 
bears to the Curua. Like the Alenquer, it is a lowland 
stream, flowing eastward out of a lake which receives the 
highland river. In fact, it is a part of the Maecuru, and the 
Indians often call it by that name. Their own name for the 
whole river system is Citriipatilba^ Many Ports.* There is a 
parand-miriy the Paituna^ which leaves the Maecuru above 
the lakes, and enters it again just above Monte Alegre ; we 
determine to ascend by this route, and return by the lake, 
thus completing our survey of the lower river. 

For a mile or more, the river passes by high woods — 
banks of terra firme on the northern side, contrasting strongly 
with the meadows that stretch away southward. We stop at 
the little settlement of Suriibijil, where a clear-water stream 

* Sr. D. S. Ferreira Penna (A Regiao Occidental da Provincia do Para, p. 125), 
says that the name Miiecuru is appHed only to the highland river ; after leaving the 
lake it takes the name Cururuhy, until it receives, on the left, the Igarape Apdra, 
when it is called Curupatuba. As regards the common usage, this is a mistake. I 
have heard the names Maecuru and Curupatuba indifferently applied to either river. 
Rio de Monte Alegre is the lowland stream. 


flows down from the campo. Here are manufactured many 
of the painted calabashes of which I have spoken. The 
women are constantly engaged in preparing them ; generally 
coarse, cheap kinds, but occasionally they spend whole days 
in putting on really elaborate and artistic designs. The cala- 
bash-trees* are planted all about the houses, and we see the 
great fruits, like green cannon-balls, attached by short stems 
to the branches. The fruits are cut in two from stem to 
apex, and the white inner pulp is carefully scraped away ; to 
do this thoroughly, the shells must be soaked for a long time 
in water. When they are perfectly smooth, they are painted 
with a solution of r//;;/^//-bark,t which, being exposed to the 
fumes of ammonia, becomes a brilliant black lacquer, proof 
against hot water and rum, and very durable ; introduced 
into the United States, this cumati would be invaluable for 
certain kinds of work. The prettiest calabashes, to my think- 
ing, have only this black coating, with the patterns scratched 
through it, so as to show the white shell beneath. The 
painted specimens are of various colors and patterns. Cer- 
tain bright clays are used for the yellow and gray tints ; an- 
natto gives the red, and indigo the blue ; frequently, bits of 
gold-leaf and tinsel are fixed to the varnish, with gaudy 
effect. Besides the native designs, natural objects are some- 
times imitated, and a common pattern is the Brazilian coat- 
of-arms. Baskets, spoons and closed jars are made of the 
calabashes. Some of the more elaborate ones are sold for 
two or three milreis (one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents), 
and even more ; the common ones can be obtained for a few 

Leaving Surubiju, we turn away from the highland ; the 

* Crescentia cujete. t Apocynea follicularis. 



river is now a typical lowland channel, two or three hundred 
yards wide, and deep enough for any of the river steamboats. 
The tide is felt here, strongly : for an hour at a time the cur- 
rent sets in from the Amazons. It is said that, in the dry 

season, the water flows 
back for days together. 
Possibly the evapora- 
tion from the great lake 
above, and the wind, ^^ 
blowing westward over 
it, cause this phenome- 
non, which has already 
been noticed by Brown 
and Lidstone.* 

Three or four miles 
above Monte Alegre, we leave the main river and turn into 
the Paituna. At the mouth, this side-channel is rather more 
than a hundred yards broad, flowing, with a considerable cur- 


* B'ifteen Thousand Miles on the Amazon, p. 24. 


rent, between broad meadows, with low banks at the water's 
edge. There is no continued forest here ; clumps of trees 
grow on either side, among thickets of mimosas and weeds. 
Maraja and javary palms nod at the water's edge ; beyond, 
on either side, there are small lakes and numberless pools, 
occupying half the surface ; but we can see only the moving 
grass, interrupted occasionally by the mouth of a little igarape. 

The white herons * have gathered here in great flocks ; as 
we come up, they spread their snowy wings and fly a little 
way, but soon light again in the shallow water ; often a hun- 
dred are in the air together, like an animated snow-storm. 
With these are egrets t and bitterns ;|: blue herons, § some- 
times, and beautiful roseate spoonbills. i| Black divers H swim 
with their heads and long necks out of water, but ready 
to dip under at the least alarm ; flocks of ducks appear now 
and then — either the large, black /<a:/<? * * or the smaller, pret- 
tily painted, gra.y 7nareca.i'^ Among the bushes there are 
numberless small birds, and rarely a great hawk, or an a/e;i- 
corne, unicorn-bird, J f with a long bristle or horn on its head. 
Capibaras run on the shore ; lazy alligators lie with their 
heads above the surface ; fish leap from the water ; bright 
dragon-flies dart about among the reeds. Turn where you 
will, there is some new phase of this overflowing animal life ; 
stroncrlv in contrast to the dark forest, where the birds and 
insects hide themselves, and you seem walking in a land 
without motion or sound, a wilderness of trees alone. 

Shortly above its mouth, the Paituna receives the little 
Igarape d'Ererc, which flows down from a range of hills on 
the north. These hills form a crescent ; first there is Erere\ 

* Ardea candidissima. + Ardea alba. X Ardea exilis ? 

§ Ardea Herodias. [ Platerhynchus. T Plotus anhinga. 

** Anas moschata ? tt Anas autumnalis. \ % Palamedea cornuta. 



nearly a thousand feet high, with the long spur of Paiiuna 
stretching off into the lowland ; then Arochi, and the conical 
peak o{ MacJiirdy and the lower hills oi Paraizo, Sao Jiclido, 
Uriiciiry and Brutin, sweeping around by the Maecurii. In 
the other direction the curve can be traced still farther, 
through the low ridges of Uacarc and Airi to the rock-mass 
of Tajuri ; thence, probably, the circle :-;: 
is completed in other ridges, which we 
cannot distinguish here. The hills are 
the remnants of a great dome of rock. 

Serra d Erere, Irom tne Nortneast. 

the core of which has been washed away, leaving the plain 
of Erere in the middle ; all through the range we find sand- 
stone strata, dipping away from the plain. 

The Paituna is excessively crooked, and it varies greatly 
in width. Often there is a narrow channel, through flooded 
meadows on either side. The whole country is full of lakes, 
whereof the largest are no more than a mile across. We 
turn off from the main channel at sunset, to seek a shorter 
passage through these lakes ; the men push the boat through 
the grass with their long poles, for the land is so low here 
that it is still covered with water, although it is late in Au- 


gust, and the flood season is passed ; these meadows are dry 
only during two or three months of each year. The lakes 
and pools are covered with pontederias, and great, white 
lilies. Once or twice we pass a Victoria regia ; the buds 
are just opening ; in the morning the flowers will be seen at 
their best, but before midday they will change color, and 
droop, and so sink into the water to ripen their seeds. 

It is ten o'clock when we come out into the Paituna again, 
and seek shelter in a half-submerged varzea house, almost the 
only one that we have seen since leaving Surubiju. Here 
we pass the night, uncomfortably enough, for the mosquitoes 
are numberless ; the-house itself is full, and we must swing 
our hammocks in an open shed. 

We are off with the early morning. The channel is wider 
again, a hundred yards or more, and lined with beautiful, 
feathery bamboos ; here and there the javary palms appear, 
and little clumps of thick-leaved trees ; but behind them the 
meadows stretch away on all sides. The birds are waking to 
the sunrise ; all their hearts go out in song now, and the 
bushes and trees are alive with them. Oh, it is glorious 
here, with the day coming on, and all Nature bursting into a 
jubilee to greet it ! 

" Bully, isn't it, F. ? " says D. *' What ees Bullee ? " in- 
quires F., dubiously. I explain, ** touroso." (Portuguese, 
totcrOy a bull : touroso, nobis, pertaining to a bull.) F. stares ; 
D. explodes. ''Hit 'im again, old boy," says he; and F. 
retorts : *' Go and tell dat to de marines." When I am next 
scribbling at my note-book, D. suggests: *'Put it in that 
' the tedium of the voyage was whiled away by the charms 
of intellectual conversation ! ' " 

In one place the Paituna flows within a quarter of a mile 
of the Maecuru ; here there is a muddy road, crossing the 

352 BRAZIL. 

meadows to a cattle fazenda on the latter stream. The 
owner of the fazenda tells us that he has just come from 
Monte Alegre, by land, in five hours ; we have been a day 
and a half, canoeing through the tortuous igarape. 

As we near the Maecurii the channel is narrow, and the 
current is very strong. It is curious to note the varying 
strength of the current through the igarape. In some places, 
where it is no wider nor deeper than here, it forms only a 
row of sluggish pools, with a barely perceptible flow. I 
suppose that much of the water passes across the meadows, 
in this interminable net-work of lakes and channels. The 
Paituna must have been left by the gradual filling up of a 
large lake ; it lacks the high, steeply-cut banks and regular 
width of the true Amazonian channels. During the floods, 
this region is, in fact, a great lake, and the igarape is only 
marked by the clumps of trees and bamboos along its edge. 
In course of time, very likely, it will become the main outlet 
of the Maecurii ; then the old channel will fill up, or remain 
as diftcrOy through which Amazonian water will flow into the 

The Maecurii itself, where we enter it, is a hundred and 
fifty yards broad, and ten or twelve feet deep ; water dark, 
leaf-stained, but almost free from clay and mud. It is almost 
as crooked as the Paituna, but the banks are well defined ; 
often high enough to be out of reach of the floods, as on the 
raised Amazonian borders. We observe, what has often 
been noticed elsewhere, that there are two types of vegeta- 
tion, marking the high and low varzea banks ; * on the for- 
mer, for instance, the urucury palm t grows abundantly, but 
on the lower ground its place is taken by the javary. % As it 

* Or high varzea, and low ygapo. t Attalea excelsa. 

X Astrocaryum javari. 



generally happens that there are high banks on one side, and 
lovv^ ones on the other, we commonly see the two kinds of 
palms collected on opposite shores. Rarely, a point of low 
terra firme comes down to the river, and then the picture is 
changed altogether ; thick forest takes the place of the palms 
and bamboos ; the grass disappears along the water's edge, 
and great branches reach out over it, leaving shady depths 

We pass the little settlements of Curimatd and Pery, 
each with three or four thatched houses ; after this there are 
no more signs of habitation until we reach Lake Maripd, six 

View on Lake Maripa 

miles above the Paituna. The lake communicates with the 
river by a little, swift-flowing igarape, which is too shallow 
for our canoe ; so one of the men explores along the bank 
until he finds two fishermen, into whose small boat we crowd, 
the gunwale hardly an inch above the water. A quarter of a 
mile up the igarape, we emerge into the lake, one of those 
beautiful sheets of water that are forever surprising the trav- 
eller, when he looks only for dry land or shallow varzea 
pools. Lake Maripa is almost surrounded by terra firme : 

354 BRAZIL. 

ridges, fifty or sixty feet high, rising steeply from the 
water in half a dozen places ; but between them there are 
great tracts of varzea meadow and woods, stretching back far 
into the interior. At least one great island of high land is 
cut off, between the lake and the river. The whole region 
is but another illustration of what we have seen on the Cu- 
rua : terra firme and varzea mingled in inextricable confu- 
sion, as if the ridges had sunk into the river-plain. Amid all 
this picturesque confusion, the placid lake spreads its bright 
waters, reflecting here a rocky, forest-covered point, there a 
grassy shore. Fish leap up to the sunshine ; the birds call 
from highest branches ; the Indians love Maripa, not because 
they comprehend its charms, but because, somewhere in 
their simple hearts, they have a child's love for all beautiful 

There are a dozen houses scattered here and there ; we 
find shelter for the night in one of them, and old Lauren^o 
is mightily proud of his guests. Here, too, we pick up an- 
other canoe-hand — a young Indian, who has already as- 
cended the river far among the falls. The fishermen and 
salsaparilla-gatherers sometimes go there, but we cannot 
find that any white man has ventured above the first rapids. 

There is another lake near by — Lago dc Maripa do Cen- 
iro ; we make a vain attempt to reach it over the half-flooded 
■meadows ; this, and our explorations about Maripa, occupy 
half a day, so that it is near noon before we return to our 
canoe. Up the river again, around an interminable series of 
bends, which seem always to bring us back to our starting- 
place. At length we stop, where three or four uprights, still 
•standing, mark the site of an old fazenda ; Maripa (so we 
have christened our new man) says that it belonged to 
one Brutin, and from him the little hill near by took its 


name. Senhor Brutin, in a tight house, may have slept well 
enough ; but we, who must fight the mosquitoes all night, 
are much inclined to curse the place and all connected with 
it. D., it is true, has an army-tent, which he brought from 
Pernambuco expressly for such a trip ; but when we have set 
it up, we find, to our disgust, that the maker sought only a 
free circulation under it ; there is a foot's space between the 
edge of the canvas and the ground ; fill this with branches as 
we will, the littfe torments come in by thousands, and we are 
soon glad enough to leave the stifling place for our cool ham- 
mocks outside. Consider our disgust when, going on a mile 
or so next morning, we hear the cocks crowing at Maripa ! 
The crooked channel has brought us close to the lake again ; 
we might have walked across by a good path, and passed a 
comfortable night at our old quarters. 

After this, the river is less tortuous ; we advance rapidly, 
stopping only where some terra firme point gives us a little 
glimpse of the geology. There are no more houses ; the 
campos cease a few miles above Maripa, and now there is 
only the rich forest, varzea or terra firme, with few palms, 
but numberless vines, and thick, interlaced branches. The 
low woods, especially, are beautiful beyond all language ; 
ifigd and taixi trees * are in full bloom ; with them grow 
araparys,'^ dark branches as dense as thatch, and the leaves 
imbricated so that hardly a drop of rain can pass through 
them. The ^/^//.y, J strangler-trees, attract our attention by 
their strange forms; the inongubas% by their mottled, gray 
and green trunks, and deciduous foliage; the imbanbas\ by 
their white, branching stems, like candelabras, and their great, 

* Inga, sp. var. t Leguminosae. 

\ Clusia, sp. § Bombax monguba. 

3 Cecropia, sp. var. 



palmate, silver- lined leaves. Sand-banks here and there are 
marked by h'nes oi ai'acd bushes,* half submerged. 

Our life settles into a pleasant routine ; at every camp 

the men fish 
or hunt, and 
our forest- 
table is pret- 
ty well sup- 
plied. The 
fish are gen- 
erally large 
/ i r anlias ^ 
which are so 
here that 
bathing in 
the river is 
quite out of 
the question. 
Maripa takes 
his bow and 
arrows, and 
perches on 

- some over- 
Indian Shooting Fish. t 

branch or water-washed root to shoot curiniatds and Uiaui- 
arcs ; he stands like a statue until a fish passes underneath ; 
then the bow is drawn, quick as light, and the arrow hardly 
leaves a ripple as it cuts through the water. Often the shots 

* Psidium, sp. 


are unsuccessful, for this kind of sport requires no little skill ; 
the fisherman must allow for the refraction of the water, or 
he will certainly miss his mark. Besides the fish, we are 
often treated to a mareca duck,* for the birds are numerous 
about the river and its lakes. The young are pretty, plushy 
things, quite active and vigorous. Once the men shoot at 
an old duck, missing her, but cruelly wounding some of the 
little ones about her. The mother only swims off a few 
yards, calling pitifully, but bravely holding her ground as we 
come up ; the father appears from the woods and echoes her 
cries. I think even our Indians are struck with remorse, for 
they do not molest the birds further. 

Our course now is nearly due north, by woods all aflame 
with the taixi-blossoms. Little streams flow in, here and 
there, from lakes on either side. Maripa points out the Iga- 
rape de Turard, and, farther north, the Igarape de Ctcjiibim^ 
outlets of lakes which we have already visited from Paracary. 
None of these lakes are very large ; they occupy crooked 
varzea bays, which extend so far back from the Maecurii that 
they seem to have no communication with it. Only as we 
near the falls, the terra firme draws in to the river-banks. 
Now the current is so strong that the men have hard work to 
force the canoe against it ; the channel is shallow, with shift- 
ing sand-banks here and there, where the turtles will come a 
little later to deposit their eggs. 

On the morning of the fourth day after leaving Maripa, 
we hear the roar of the rapids. Two miles yet we have to 
paddle around the curves ; then we see a great sheet of 
white foam, sweeping half a mile down the long, rocky 
slope, and whirling into the still water below. The main 

* Anas autumnalis. 

358 BRAZIL. 

channel here is three hundred yards broad, and there are 
three or four narrow side-channels, cutting off little wooded 
islands ; through them the water rushes like a millstream : 
a pretty sight, but the navigation appears very dubious. 
However, we choose a promising channel and push ahead, 
the men paddling with a will. We might as well try to row 
up Niagara ; we cannot even get into the main rapids, such 
is the force of the current below. Another channel is tried 
with like success ; it becomes evident that our antagonist is 
a pretty formidable one. 

Crossing to a small channel on the eastern side, we un- 
load our canoe, and make another attempt, pulling along 
by the branches on shore. This answers very well until we 
come to a huge tree, which has fallen directly across the cur- 
rent, and lodged on some rocks far out in the swift water ; 
we cannot pass this obstacle, and it is clearly foolhardy to 
think of getting around it ; so we drift back helplessly to the 
still water. 

Next, we try to drag the canoe over by land, but we are 
stopped in the outset by a steep bank, beyond which, if we 
could ascend it, the way is clear enough. After four hours 
of very hard work, we only succeed in getting one end of the 
heavy canoe to the top. The men are tired and discouraged, 
and the prospects for ascending at all look very gloomy. 

It is four o'clock in the afternoon. As a last resource, we 
resolve to attempt the broad main channel, though the very 
sight of it is chilling. Leaving all the baggage on the bank, 
we cross to the western side ; the men jump into the water, 
struggling for a footing among the rocks, and dragging the 
canoe along, inch by inch. The first line of foam is passed, 
and the crew are shouting like demons. We are overboard 
with the rest, water up to our waists, to our breasts, over 


our heads in deep places, but we cling to the gunwale, and 
somebody else is sure to have a footing ; so we advance, 
steadily. " Piranha, don't bite my foot! " shouts Joaquim ; 
but luckily there are no piranhas in the swift current. A 
wall of rock rises before us ; we pull the canoe half-way 
across the rapids, until we find a gap, through which we 
struggle somehow ; water seething and boiling, and rushing 
on madly ; dashing spray into our eyes, dashing big waves 
against our bodies, dashing, gurgling, hissing ; roaring and 
foaming about the black bowlders, and we like black specks 
in the midst of it all, but always struggling upward. So, in 
an hour's time, we stand at the top, dripping from head to 
foot, cheering, shaking hands, singing. Well, it is no slight 
victory, this one over the Pannacil rapid. Looking down 
the white slope, we wonder how we ever ascended it. 

F. seizes the brandy-flask, and remembering yesterday's 
OUendorf-lesson, remarks : "I am neider ashamed nor afraid, 
I am tirsty." We shout approvingly, for everybody is 
good-natured now. After supper the men get a reeking 
bowl of punch, that makes their eyes water. We sleep 
within sound of the rapids. Once, in the night, a troop of 
howling-monkeys pass over our heads, and the woods echo 
with their lugubrious concert. We have heard them often 
along the river-banks, and once or twice they have appeared 
on the tree-tops, dodging behind branches, and setting up 
a howl of delight when we are well past them. 

Now all obstacles ahead seem light ; and in fact, the first 
succeeding rapids are comparatively easy ones. We pass six 
this day, and three during the next forenoon. But the elev- 
enth rapid is a very hard one ; more spiteful than the first, 
though it is not so long. We are well up to our work now ; 
the men go at it, laughing, and even when we are in the very 

360 BRAZIL. 

midst of the foam, they let go their hold to dive into the 
pools and scramble over the black rocks. Once we have to 
go up a sheer fall of three feet or more ; here they work like 
giants, and actually lift the heavy canoe over the obstacle. It 
is a good day's work, we agree ; so the camp is made here, 
and we sup royally on a great imUiim-h'wd * which the men 
have shot. In the morning we go on, through a clear chan- 
nel now, for ten miles or more ; the banks high, and glori- 
ously wooded, with cliffs here and there, and picturesque 
hills. The river is two hundred yards in average width, and 
quite deep. 

We enter the rapids again, where they come in quick suc- 
cession along the channel, and each one, it would seem, 
worse than the last. The fifteenth cachoeira is a very bad 
one. We work with the men, up to our breasts in the 
water ; once, in the very swiftest current, an electric eel 
passes twice by my knee, each time giving me a sharp shock. 
I dare not let go my hold of the canoe, and it is impossible 
to scramble into it from the swift water ; I bear the battery as 
well as I can, making a wry face, to be sure, but I am none 
the worse for the little adventure. These eels, in the rapids, 
must be different from those that live in the pools about the 
lowlands ; the Indians call them purakc\ and speak of several 

The sixteenth fall is long and strong, and the men have 
to go overboard again. The first turn beyond this brings us 
to the seventeenth fall, a smooth, glistening sheet, sweeping 
half a mile around a curve, without a single rock to break 
its force. It is clearly worse than any we have passed. We 
stop on the shore, just below, to breakfast and hold a council 

* Mitu tuberosa. 


of war. The steady hiss of the current almost drowns our 
words ; the men are whispering together, with dissatisfied 

D. wanders off with his geological hammer, and presently 
calls to us triumphantly ; among the sandstone bowlders 
along the shore he has found a block full of Devonian fos- 
sils. In a moment we are all at it, turning over this stone 
and that, generally finding only the hard, sterile rock, but 
sometimes hitting on a rich fragment, with scores of beauti- 
ful shells. Now, we have been passing through a descend- 
ing series of rock ; that is, the strata dip to the south or 
southwest, and Ave, going north, have been continually find- 
ing older rocks. It happens that the strata seen just below 
here correspond to the lowest rocks that we have seen near 
Monte Alegre ; beyond this, therefore, we can look for real 
discoveries — rocks that we have not yet seen. The fossil- 
iferous bowlders have clearly been washed down the stream ; 
perhaps from the bed of the rapid itself. At any rate, we 
can hope to find this, and still older strata, above, along the 
banks. The fossils decide the question ; we will attempt the 
Tea Pichiina * rapid. 

The luggage is tossed out, and the men are stripped to 
their work ; seven of us in all, we drag the canoe to the base 
of the Long incline, keeping near the eastern shore, and aid- 
ing ourselves as we can, with the branches that droop over 
the current. The water is above our waists, running now. 
with immense force ; bottom of smooth, hard rock, with roll- 
ing pebbles that give no foothold. We struggle on for a few 
yards ; the outside men are washed off their feet, and those 

* This appears to mean "Black Village." There are stories of former negro vil- 
lages on the Maecuru. 



near the shore can hardly keep their places by holding to the 
boughs. D. shouts to one to get into the boat ; he does so 
with some difficulty, and manages to secure the bow with a 
turn of rope about a branch ; with this we get a little resting- 
spell. Now the strongest man is sent ahead with another 
rope ; he clambers along the shore, holding to roots and 
twigs ; once nearly washed away, but eventually he makes 
his rope fast to a tree, and we in the boat pull on it, hand 
over hand, until we bring ourselves up to the knot ; in this 

Camp Scene on the Maecuru. 

way we have advanced twenty feet, but the very sight of the 
torrent about us is enouo-h to turn one dizzy. Never mind : 
we take a little breathing-spell, and then repeat the manoeu- 
vre. So, by the espia, and by wading in less dangerous 
spots, we make our way up at a snail's pace. After four 
hours of this labor we near the top of the rapid ; already we 
are congratulating ourselves that the worst is over, when 


some unlucky genius prompts one of the men to aid matters 
by pushing with a pole away from the bank. In an instant 
the current catches us, and whirls us into the very centre ; 
somebody springs to the helm, but it is too late to reach the 
bank again ; down we go, at express-train speed, reaching 
the bottom again in rather less than three minutes ; fortu- 
nately there are no rocks in the way. 

It is too late for another attempt to-night, so we camp on 
the shore, tired and gloomy. However, we are at it again 
next day, taking now the opposite, and convex side, which 
we should have tried in the outset. It is a hard pull, but the 
rapid is beaten at last, and to crown our triumph we find the 
fossil-beds that we were looking for, shortly above, at the 
nineteenth fall; better, even, than the fragments promised.* 
We stop here only a little while, leaving more extended ex- 
plorations for our return. 

Just above the Tea Pichuna rapid, Ave have passed a small 
tributary on the eastern side, the only one that we have seen 
since entering the falls. Above this there are rapids again, 
in close succession ; the eighteenth a slight one, which we 
dash through merrily ; the nineteenth a half-mile-long mass 
of foam, which looks very bad, but proves to be quite easy, 
because we readily get foothold among the rocks. The long- 
est rapid of all is the twenty-second, a good three-quarters 
of a mile from top to bottom, and full of ugly-looking black 
rocks ; however, we have learned that these are aids rather 
than hinderances, because they give us resting-places and 
supports for hands and feet ; we are fearless now, and think 

* This was the first discovery of these rocks, afterward identified by myself at 
the Lontra Rapids of the Curua ; I have reversed the time-order of the two explo- 
rations. The geological results of the Maecuru expedition are in the hands of Prof. 
O. A. Derby, of Rio de Janeiro. 

364 BRAZIL. 

nothing of venturing out into the current to hammer at some 
promising ledge, or capture a bright-colored insect. Many 
of these insects about the rapids are of peculiar species, the 
larvae of which live in swift-running water ; the pretty drag- 
on-flies and bronze-winged Agrions are especially conspicu- 
ous. My boxes are soon full, and I only regret the lack of 
time and space to amass a large collection in this unknown 

We are passing now between sandstone cliffs a hundred 
feet high, or hills covered with heavy forest. Sometimes we 
catch glimpses of a blue hill or mountain, five or six miles 
yet to the north.* But we are not fated to reach it on this 
voyage. It is more than two weeks since we left Monte 
Alegre ; the provisions are nearly exhausted, and right ahead 
of us appears the twenty-sixth fall, a sheer leap of twenty- 
five feet. We might, indeed, pass it by land ; there are no 
high banks in the way ; we find an old path that may have 
been used by salsaparilla-hunters to drag their light canoes 
over. But the men rebel outright ; they urge, truly enough, 
that they never agreed to go farther than this Pancada 
Grande, which is rarely attained, even by the drug-gath- 
erers. For our part, we would be willing to go on for a 
day or two longer ; report has it that there is clear water 
for a day's journey above this place, and we are always find- 
ing older rocks as we advance. But after weighing all the 
pros and cons, it is decided that we will be wiser to give way 
to the men and the empty provision-boxes. We stop only 
for a hasty sketch of the Pancada Grande, and a baromet- 
rical observation; then we begin our downward journey, 

* Probably the so-called Serra de Tititica, a flat-topped ridge or table-land, 
faintly seen from the top of Erere ; it must be fifteen hundred feet above the Ama- 


shooting the rapids where we dare to, wading down through 
the more difficult ones, until we reach the top of the Tea 
Pichuna fall, where we stop for two days to explore the fos- 
sil-bearing rocks that we have hardly examined before. 

Let the geologist of a railroad country imagine, if he can, 
our predicament ; a bottomless storehouse of beautiful fos- 
sils, but no means of taking them away except our small, 
heavy canoe. We select and re-select the most perfect speci- 
mens; trim every one until it can be trimmed no more; the 
Indians weave baskets of palm-fibres, and we pack a dozen 
of them, until we fear to put more in the canoe. The men, 
meanwhile, have been hunting, and have killed a wild hog,* 
so we fare royally, and only regret that we must leave the 
place so soon. Our collection has cost us two days of steady 
work, but, as D. says, it is ''boiled down;" perhaps no 
other collection of fossil shells was ever reduced, in the field, 
to a smaller bulk. 

Now we go racing down the rapids again ; shooting the 
Tea Pichuna gallantly, but obliged to unload our canoe for 
one or two of the worst falls below. The canoe itself is be- 
ginning to show the hard usage it has received ; there are 
great dents and cracks in the bottom, and it is leaking badly. 
However, we go on until the last fall is passed ; safe in the 
quiet water below, we stop to recalk the boat, lest our heavy 
load should sink us altogether. So easily all the injury is 
repaired ; for ourselves, we are as healthy as possible, and 
we have felt nothing at all of the fevers that rumor had placed 
about the falls. Doubtless it is very unhealthy there at cer- 
tain times, but it has assuredly been very healthy during our 
voyage. The pium flies were abundant about the rapids, and 

* The taitittt, Dicotyles torquatus. 

366 BRAZIL. 

they have left their marks on our hands and faces, but these 
will soon disappear ; some of us would be ready to repeat 
the Maecuru experience. 

We return by way of Lago Grande de Monte Alegre. 
From the Paituna to the lake, the river is two hundred 
yards wide, or more, and deep enough for small steamers. 
The banks are high, and lined with bamboos or clumps of 
forest. We pass little settlements along the shore ; the 
largest of these, Jauarary, contains ten or twelve Indian 
houses. It lies on the main road from Monte Alegre to 
Paracary and Alenquer ; here the Maecuru is passed by a 
canoe-ferry, the herdsmen swimming their horses, as they 
must in two or three other places along the same route. Yet 
this is one of the longest, and perhaps the most travelled, of 
all roads in the Amazons valley. 

Where it enters Lago Grande, the Maecuru has formed a 
long tongue of land, high banks of the river shelving off 
rapidly to the low, muddy beach of the lake, on either side ; 
here there is a beautiful grove. Great waves come rolling in 
with the east wind ; we can just see the southern shore of 
the lake, a line of forest fronting the Amazons, and breaking 
up toward the west, where there is a clear horizon. The 
lake is about twenty-five miles long, and eight or ten wide ; 
shallow, like the other varzea lakes, but with a deeper chan- 
nel marking the river-course. At the western end it comes 
close to the Tapard, a side-channel of the Amazons below 
the mouth of the Alenquer. It is said that Lago Grande is 
connected with Lago de Paracary by a strip of varzea 
meadow, with little lakes, where canoes can pass in the 
flood-season. This strip cuts off a great island of terra 
firme, south of Paracary : another instance of the irregu- 
larity of outline which characterizes this part of the Amazo- 


nian flood-plain. On the south, Lago Grande communicates 
with the Amazons by a single narrow channel, the Furo de 
RicardOy which is navigable only during the floods. The 
lake is celebrated for its pirarucu fisheries, sharing the har- 
vest with Lago de Curua, and Lago Grande de Villa 

The wind is too high to allow us to cross the lake with 
our heavily laden canoe ; we lounge in the pleasant grove 
until near sunset, when the waters are smoother, and we can 
run down to the outlet. There are, in fact, two outlets, 
which unite shortly below, receiving the crooked little Iga- 
rdpe-apdra, through which water flows from the complicated 
net of lakes and channels and pools about the Paituna. The 
Maecurii itself is very crooked below the lake, and it varies 
in width from two hundred yards to almost half a mile ; the 
meadows on either side are low and half-flooded, and the 
banks are not distinctly marked. All this we observe dimly, 
during our long evening voyage ; when, at length, we reach 
a herdsman's house on the banks, we are glad enough to 
forget the mosquitoes and endless channels in our comfort- 
able hammocks. 

We are ofl" again by four o'clock in the morning ; all day 
tediously paddling along the monotonous channel, which here 
hardly varies from its regular width of about two hundred 
and fifty yards, with a steady east-northeast course. The 
banks are higher now, with occasional clumps of bamboos 
or low trees : beyond, the meadows stretch southward to the 
blue line of forest that marks the Amazonian shores ; to the 
north they extend to the Paituna and the Erere hills. The 
white beach of Monte Alegre comes in sight at length ; it is 
dusk when we leap to the shore, a soiled and ragged party, 
but none the less warmly greeted by our good friends. God 

368 BRAZIL. 

bless the Monte Alegreans for their kind hearts and open 
doors ! 

- To review: The Maecuru, as nearly as we can say, rises 
in about lat. i° or i° 30' N. and long. 54° W. G. It flows 
with a general southerly course, through a series of rapids and 
falls, with intervals of still water, to the Pannacu rapids, near 
lat. 1° 12' S. and long. 54° 18' W. G. ; below this the naviga- 
tion is clear, at least in the wet season. The channel is often 
very tortuous, but it retains its general southerly course to 
the embouchure in Lago Grande de Monte Alegre, as nearly 
as possible in lat. 2° 20' S. and long. 54° W. G. From the 
lake it flows east-northeast, until it touches the highland at 
Monte Alegre ; then east-southeast, dividing just before it 
enters the Amazons, in about lat. 2° 8' S., and long. 53° 35' 
W. G. The whole navigable length of the river, from the 
lower falls, is about one hundred and fifteen miles ; this in- 
cludes all the curves, and the lake. Our party penetrated 
about thirty-five miles beyond the Pannacu rapid, to the 
Pancada Grande, one hundred and fifty miles from the mouth 
by the river-curves, but hardly half as far in a direct line. It 
should be added that these figures' are approximations only. 

From the lower rapids to Lago Grande, the Maecuru 
flows through an ever-widening flood-plain. On the eastern 
side, where it is bordered by the high Erere hills, the outline 
of this plain is pretty regular. To the west the land is very 
low, and here the irregularities are endless : every little 
stream that flows into the river marks a great tract of varzea 
meadow, and swamps, and lakes. The Cujubim igarape, for 
example, enters the Maecuru through a comparatively narrow 
passage, between two points of terra firme ; but above, this 
strip of varzea widens, as we have seen, to a tract at least 
thirty miles long and ten or fifteen broad. So at Turara, 


Mimi, Maripa : the whole eastern side is a jumble of mead- 
ows and lakes and swamps without number, all flooded dur- 
ing a part of the year, but with points and islands of dry 
land that almost defy the map-maker by their crookedness. 

The parallelism between the Maecuru and the Curua is 
very clear. Both rise on the southern slope of the Guiana 
Mountains, and flow southward, with many rapids and falls, 
until they near the Amazons ; here they pass through long, 
irregular tongues of varzea, with small lakes on either side. 
Both flow through long varzea lakes, which communicate 
with the Amazons by narrow channels, navigable in winter ; 
both, on leaving the lakes, turn sharply to the east, and 
northeast, touching the highland at one point, and then turn- 
ing southeast, until they empty into the Amazons. A kind 
of parallelism can be traced, also, between the Igarape de 
Paituna and the equally crooked Igarape de Itacarara. But 
the Curua diflers notably, in that it receives contributions 
from the Amazons, first by the long channel of the Mamauru, 
and again by the short, wide upper mouth of the Igarape 
d'Alenquer ; the Maecuru gets no Amazonian water what- 
ever, except during the floods, when the great river flows 
over into Lago Grande, first from Paracary and then by the 
little Furo de Ricardo. 

D. surveys the well-filled boxes of fossils which we have 
been packing. **Well, F.," says he, ''here we are; and 
what shall I report about our trip ? " 

** How's dat for high ? " answers F. 



THE late afternoon sun shines full in our faces as we toil 
up the long slope that lies between the canoe-port and 
the village of Erere. The landscape is singularly home-like 
in many of its features : ridgy meadows, with cattle browsing 
here and there on the young grass ; richer green marking the 
tree-lined water-courses ; outlined against the sky, a rugged 
mountain mass, such as one may see almost anywhere in 
western Massachusetts ; and to the north, range after range 
of forest-clad hills. But before us the thatched houses of the 
village peep out from among orange-groves and palm-trees ; 
and down the narrow path come a troop of black-eyed In- 
dian girls, with their baskets of Sunday finery balanced on 
their heads ; they are going to Monte Alegre to attend some 
church festival. 

Erere is an Indian village, lying to the north of the Ama- 
zons, about eight miles from Monte Alegre. The place has 
been inhabited from time immemorial ; probably long before 
Orrelana made his adventurous voyage down the river, or 
Caldeira founded Para. And as the village is removed from 
the main lines of travel, it happens that the twenty-five or 
thirty families who rem'ain here have preserved, almost un- 
changed, many of the aboriginal customs, and those intro- 


duced by the early Jesuit missionaries. It is, in fact, a ty- 
pical village of the semi-civilized Amazonian Indians.* 

The olive-skinned lassies are crossing the brook now, 
splashing the water a little in fun, and greeting us with a 
smiling ^'Adcos, Senhor,'' as they pass on. Their bare feet 
come down firmly but softly, never minding the little round 
stones that cover the path ; they wear clean calico skirts and 
modest sacks, and their uncovered, purple-black hair is caught 
up with horn combs, or streams down their backs. Ate reste^ 
one or two of the faces are pretty enough, but the most are 
plain. An artist might object that the women were too short 
and heavy for beauty ; but over all drawbacks of form and 
feature, you cannot help admiring the splendid motion of a 
body untrammelled by laced stays and high-heeled shoes ; 
shoulders are thrown back, and heads are erect under their 
burdens ; and they would march just as well if the loads 
were five times as heavy. These healthy limbs and supple 
bodies will bear up for hours unwearied, with the weight of 
a sack of flour balanced over them ; aye, and the girls will 
dance half the night afterward ! 

Three or four older people in the troop are wrinkled, but 
not decrepit ; bright-eyed, and firm-footed, greeting us very 
gravely and politely, and holding their place in the crowd of 
younger ones with a kind of patriarchal dignity. They make 
one or two good-natured inquiries, such as naturally arise 
from the apparition of a party of strange Americans on their 
quiet roads. Then the group passes on, and we resume our 

* I have studied these people during several years of almost constant intercourse 
with them, living for weeks in their villages or making long explorations with no 
other companions ; so it will not, perhaps, be very surprising if my estimate of their 
character differs from that of certain steamboat travellers. 

372 BRAZIL. 

There is a little white chapel on the brow of the hill, 
and the houses just around it are set with some show of reg- 
ularity. We observe an attempt at a square also, but it is a 
side-hill affair, and all grown over with weeds. After this 
weak little effort toward civilization, the houses relapse into 
barbarism, and go straying away in picturesque confusion, 
hiding under the orange-groves and great, bushy mango- 
trees as if they shunned observation. Our own quarters — 
the best the place affords — are in an adobe house near the 
chapel ; in other words, if you please, a mud house, but with 
wooden doors and window-shutters, and a good palm-thatch 
roof; no floor except the native earth, but that is dry and 
hard, and with clean mats to spread under our hammocks Ave 
shall do very well. Our baggage is lying at the canoe-land- 
ing, two miles away ; half the women and girls in the village 
go trooping after it, willing enough to do a favor for the 
America7tos, and earn a few honest coppers in the doing ; by 
sunset they are back again, bringing our valises and pro- 
vision-cans on their heads ; then, with everything under 
shelter, we eat our dinner of salt beef and mandioca-meal 
with the seasoning of a hearty appetite. 

At long intervals Erere has been visited by European and 
American travellers. Professor Agassiz spent a day here ; 
Wallace and Hartt have made the name a classic one in the 
literature of science. But that a lady — and an American 
lady at that — should bravely tramp over the weary miles of 
sandy campo from Monte Alegre, is an unheard-of thing. 
Even the incurious Indians are aroused, and the whole pop- 
ulation of the village comes crowding around our doors and 
windowSo The older girls and women enter unasked, not 
from any lack of poHteness, but because here every door is 
open to any one that cares to enter, and the good people 


only wish to give a friendly greeting to the branca. Little 
naked boys and girls hide themselves behind their mothers' 
skirts, or peep in at the windows to catch a glimpse of this 
wonderful curiosity. At length, finding their attentions to 
the lady more pressing than pleasant, I order the crowd out. 
They go away quietly and politely, conversing with each 
other in subdued tones, and we retire to our hammocks and 
mosquito-nets. The night-wind blows in freshly through the 
open doors and windows, but, save a hungry dog, no in- 
truder disturbs our rest. Among all this honest people, you 
will hardly find one who would so far forget the rules of hos- 
pitality as to pilfer from a stranger. 

On the Amazons people rise with the sun. A bath in 
the river, or in the nearest spring, sets the skin in an honest, 
healthy glow, and sharpens up the mind to appreciate the 
splendor of an unclouded morning. The Indians bathe, al- 
ways once, and often twice, a day. Even the toddling little 
boys and girls spatter themselves with water from a calabash. 

The spring at Erere is down in a shady hollow — a cool, 
verdant retreat, with noble palms, and tall forest-trees, and 
broad-leaved vines ; such a combination as one sees only in 
these favored spots. Within a circle of fifty yards around 
the spring there are no less than nine species of palms, in- 
cluding the noble bacaba* and the graceful tiriicttry,\ princes 
in their princely tribe ; and these mingled with bamboos, and 
giant arrow-leaved ajihigas, j^ and orchids on the branches. 
Bathing here is a romance : the air is full of wind-whisper- 
ings among the leaflets and soft perfumes from the palm 
blossoms; emerald -tinted humming-birds — *' kiss -flowers," 
the Brazilians say — balance themselves before the pendent 

* CEnocarpus bacaba. + Attalea excelsa. 

+ Calladium, sp. 



blossoms ; and fairy brown butterflies, just visible, flit along 
the ground. Indian women, coming down the path with 
earthen water-jars balanced on their heads, wait quietly in 
the forest until the braiicos have finished their bath. Then 
they pass us with a '' Bons dias, senJiores^' and stoop to 
fill their jars in the little inclosed space that is reserved 

for drinking-water. 

Half-a-dozen naked 
brown boys and girls 
follow, each with a 
round calabash-jug. 
They hold out their 
open palms for a 
blessing, and kiss 
their fingers in ac- 
knowledgment of 
our patriarchal 
''Dens tc abe7icoe f 
As we walk away, 
they Avatch us with 
quick, curious eyes, 
but say never a 

And now we shall 
learn how it is pos- 
sible for men and women to live almost separated from the 
civilized world ; how a single family can provide themselves, 
not only with food, but with house, furniture, utensils — every- 
thing, in fact, but clothing and a few coarse articles of iron 
and steel. 

Wherever we go, we will meet with nothing but kindness 
and unostentatious politeness. For instance, walking across 

The Spring. 


the weedy plot in front of our windows, we can call on old 
Joao Baptista, the best hunter and the best fisherman in the 
village. Joao rises to meet us, offering his hand (everybody 
shakes hands here, even more than in the States), and in- 
viting us to a seat on the rough wooden bench by the door. 
He is a little, wiry, wrinkled fellow, his face rather pleasant, 
though badly pitted with small-pox ; the high cheek-bones 
and broad, but not flattened, nose, are typical of the race ; 
the mouth is a good one ; the lips not too thick ; the eyes 
bright and pleasant ; the hair coarse, straight, and black as a 
raven's wing, albeit the man has passed his threescore years. 
Perhaps the Amazonian Indians may be best described by 
comparing them to Chinese. Indeed, the resemblance is so 
strong that the stray Chinamen who are sometimes seen in 
the river towns are commonly taken for Indians. The Ama- 
zonian race is characterized by a richer color — not the sallow 
hue of the Chinese Tartars, nor yet the coppery tint of the 
North American type, but a clear olive-brown, a kind of 
intensified brimct, Joao Baptista is dressed in coarse can- 
vas trousers and short jacket or shirt ; the cloth is stained 
dull-red with innruchy.^ It is soiled, for this is his work-day 
dress ; but you may be sure that it covers a clean body. 
The old man is busily shaping a paddle, using his clumsy 
knife very cleverly on the hard itatiba wood. He converses 
quietly, answering our questions, and asking a few in return ; 
but he is not talkative. 

The women of the house remain at a distance, unless they 
are spoken to ; the code of social life here does not permit 
them to intrude their presence on male visitors. If the lady 
of the party is with us, they sit by her side, curiously exam- 

*A tincture from the bark of a forest tree (Byrsonima, sp. ?) 

376 BRAZIL, 

iniiig her clothing, and asking simple questions about her 
country — the far-away, wonderful land, which, like Rome and 
paradise and heaven, exists to them only in name. The lit- 
tle ones, after the universal child-greeting of extending their 
palms for a blessing, stand watching us silently. 

Examine the structure of the house. Roughly hewn logs 
oiitauba and pdo d'arco for the uprights; set in the ground, 
they will last for fifty years. Beams and rafters are of other 
hardly less durable timbers ; the joints are secured with pegs 
or with strips of bark. Roof and sides are covered with ex- 
cellent palm-leaf thatch, tied on in regular layers, like shin- 
gles. As for floor, there is Mother Earth, with a few mats 
laid down under the hammocks. There are no windows, and 
the door-ways are closed with palm-leaf mats. So you see 
that the whole house is formed of materials which every In- 
dian can gather in the forest, with no other tools than his 
heavy wood-knife and clumsy, straight-handled ax. Some 
houses have the sides built up with lumps of clay gathered 
from the lowland creeks ; walls of this material, supported 
by a framework of poles and sticks, are durable, but very 
unsightly. In the larger places they cover the adobe with 
plaster, and whitewash the outside very neatly. 

The dwelling does not boast of much furniture. Besides 
the reed mats and cotton hammocks, there are only two or 
three benches (the boards of which have been hewn out of 
solid logs), and some green wooden trunks, with prepos- 
terous keys. These latter contain the festa dresses ; the 
coarser, work-day garments hang on lines behind the ham- 
mocks. The trunks are rather articles of luxury than of 
necessity ; in other houses we will see great balaio baskets 
taking their place ; but every well-to-do Indian considers it 
incumbent on him to have a trunk, if he can get it for money 


or credit. The last items of furniture are two low stools, 
which attract our attention by their singularity. One is made 
of the dry, hard skin of an alligator's breast, curved inward 
so that the scaled surface forms the seat and the incurled 
edges the feet ; the other is the shell of a large terrapin, com- 
mon in the neighboring woods. Under the roof there is a 
geral, or staging of poles, for mandioca-baskets, dried fish, 
and various pots and kettles. The most of these, however, 
are in the little shed-like kitchen back of the house. Every 
Indian dwelling, no matter how poor, has its kitchen sepa- 
rated from the main structure. The primitive fireplace is 
formed of three large stones ; for bellows, there is a little 
mat-fan, or, very likely, the pufifing lungs of the brown cook. 
Among the articles oi cuisine, we may observe an iron kettle, 
or a tin coffee-pot ; but these are by no means necessities ; 
most of the older women can manufacture their own cooking- 
ware of coarse clay. 

Joao's wife is willing enough to show us how the earthen 
kettles and jugs are made ; indeed, she was preparing for her 
potter's work when we came in ; the dried balls of clay have 
been soaked in water overnight, and are now ready to be 
kneaded. A quantity of ash from the bark of the caraip^ 
tree* is beaten In a huge wooden mortar, and added to the 
clay in an earthen pan. The woman carefully kneads the 
two ingredients together, picking out any small lumps and 
sticks that she finds, until she has a mass of good, stiff clay, 
dark in color, and very cohesive. Now she sits down on a 
mat, with material and tools before her. These latter are : 
I, spoon-shaped pieces of calabash; 2, the sharp operculum 
of a large river-snail {Ampullaria) ; 3, a corn-cob ; 4, a round 

* Leguminosas ? 

378 BRAZIL. 


pebble ; 5, the long canine tooth of a jaguar; 6, several red 
fungi, leathery species, full of little pores on the under side, 
which serves like sand-paper for smoothing. Besides these, 
there is a calabash of water, and a square of board, her 
primitive potter's wheel. A lump of clay is carefully kneaded 
with the hands and pressed out flat on the board, the edges 
being rounded off with the fingers and the shell scraper. By 
turning the board before her she obtains nearly a true circle 
of clay ; this is the bottom of the pot. Next, she forms long 
ropes of clay by rolling it on a board, very much as an 
apothecary rolls his cake for pills. The ropes are laid one 
over another, from the edge of the circle already formed, so 
as to build up the sides ; each layer must be carefully pressed 
with the fingers upon the one below it, and at intervals the 
sides are shaped with the calabash spoons, scraped with the 
shells, and smoothed with the corn-cob rasp and the fungus 
sand-paper, previously wetted. When the lower part of the 
pot is made, it must be set in the sun to harden, so that it 
will support the upper layers. Finally, the edge is turned 
over and finished outside with a thin roll, marked with the 
jaguar's tooth, as a New England housewife marks the edge 
of her pie-crust with a key. If we come again to-morrow, 
we can see how the baking is done over a hot fire o{ jittaJiy 
bark ; * the pot is then polished with the pebble, and var- 
nished, while still hot, \v\\h. jiitaJiy-scca\ resin. ;{: 

There are calabashes, and turtle-shell pans, and gourd 
bottles, and wooden spoons.; baskets, small and large ; clay 

*Hymencea mirabilis, or some allied species. 

+ Corruption oijutahy-icica^ Tupi, gum of the jutahy tree. 

X The method of making pottery on the Amazons was first described fully by 
Prof. C. F. Hartt, in a pamphlet published in Rio de Janeiro, entitled: "Notes on 
the Manufacture of Pottery among Savage Races." A whole volume is condensed 
in this little work. 



lamps for burning fish-oil, and so forth. Joao's wife has a 
few coarse plates and bowls, with knives, forks, and spoons, 
which she has purchased in Monte Alegre ; very often the 
plates are replaced by native earthenware, and the bowls by 

Indian Woman making Pottery. 

calabashes, and it is no unusual experience for a traveller to 
be reduced to the Indian eating-implements — the fingers. 

The standard article of food among all the poorer classes 
of tropical America is the manioc or mandioca plant ; wheaten 
bread is not more necessary to an American, or potatoes to 
an Irish peasant, or sago to a Malayan. Every Indian has 
his little plantation, and the women are occupied much of 
the time in preparing /^r/;?//^?.* At Erere, the ground is too 
stony for cultivation ; the poor folk plant their ro^as two or 
three miles away, in the woods, and to visit them we find it 
better to start early in the morning, while the air is yet cool, 
and the dew silvers every leaf. The trail leads through a low 

*This must not be confounded with our farina, which, I believe, is a preparation 
from corn. 

38o BRAZIL. 

forest, almost entirely composed of palms ; there is a thick 
undergrowth of the stemless curitd* from which the Indians 
obtain their roofing-thatch ; taller tirucurys t arch over the 
pathway ; and occasionally, in wet places, there is a slender 
assai.X or a giant, fan-leaved iniriti,% or a pretty little viara- 
jd-i, II with the stem no bigger than one's finger. There are 
vistas of indescribable beauty under the roof of swaying, 
nodding, trembling leaflets, where the sunlight is shivered 
into a thousand fragments, and each fragment is in constant, 
restless motion ; where the pretty brown birds play hide-and- 
seek in the foliage, and brilliant gnats and dragon-flies chase 
the flitting patches of light. But by and by we leave the 
forest and come out to a mandioca-field. 

Indian farming is of the rudest character. The plantation 
is simply an irregular clearing in the woods, with half-burned 
logs scattered all over the surface, so that it is difficult for us 
to make our way across ; more than one of the party comes 
to grief over a hidden vine or branch. The ground has not 
been turned at all ; as for plows, the Amazonian farmers 
never heard of them until they were introduced by Ameri- 
cans a few years ago. The mandioca-cuttings are simply 
placed, several together, in holes dug in the unprepared 
ground, and they get hardly any care. As a matter of 
course, the top-crust, baking in the sun and drained by the 
strong-growing plants, is soon exhausted ; every four or five 
years the old clearings are abandoned, and new ones are 
made, involving fresh destruction of the forest, and great out- 
lay of labor. 

The mandioca that we see now is full grown ; a half- 

* An Attalea, allied to A. spectabilis. \ Attalea excelsa. 

X Euterpe edulis. § Mauritia flexuosa. 

\ Bactris, sp. 


woody, straggling shrub, five or six feet high, with knotted 
branches and thinly-set, bluish-green, palmate leaves,— a 
singular rather than a handsome foliage ; yet the plantation 
is not without a beauty of its own, heightened, perhaps, by 
the smoky-bluish tint, and the chaotic confusion of plants, 
logs, and intruding bushes. 

The roots from which farinha is extracted are like a 
dahlia-root in shape, but much larger. When first taken 
from the ground they are full of a poisonous juice, and, of 
course, unfit for food. The process of manufacture, then, 
must secure two ends : first, the extraction of this juice, and, 
second, the separation of the nutritive principles in a form 
that can be preserved. 

Down in a hollow of the field there are some pools of 
stagnant v/ater ; the unsavory odor Avhich proceeds from one 
of these is caused by a mass of fermenting mandioca-roots, 
which have lain here probably two days. This part of the 
process is not a pleasant one, and the girl who comes down 
to fill her knapsack-basket from the reeking mass in the pool, 
excites a great deal of groundless commiseration ; she only 
laughs to see our wry faces, and walks up the pathway with 
her sixty pounds of fermented roots, as blithely as she would 
with a basket of fragrant oranges. We follow, at a distance, 
to the little open shed where farinha is prepared. Half a 
dozen women and boys are cleaning the mandioca as it is 
brought in ; the tough outer skin is easily separated from 
the softened inner mass, and the roots are piled in a great 
wooden trough, the half of a hollowed itaiiba log ; here they 
are grated on a board covered with sheet copper full of nail- 
holes. Francisca in h^t fcsta dress may be pretty ; but as 
she stoops over the grater with a root in each hand, she 
affords a too-powerful reminder of that detestable northern 



machine — the scrubbing-board. Her bare arms and black 
dress are spattered with the whey-Hke juice; her rebellious 
hair is just falling away from the confining comb ; her brown 

face, glowing with perspiration, 
gives the lie to our ideas of In- 
dian laziness. Meanwhile, Miss 
Lizia is rubbing the grated mass 
through a basket-work sieve, to 
remove the larger fragments of 
woody fibre ; then the mandi- 
oca is ready for the next stage 
— straining in the tipiti. This 

is a long, 

narrow bag, 
or rather 
pipe, woven 
from strips 
of palm- 
fibre ; the 
strips run di- 
a g o n a 1 ly 
around the 
bag, so that 

Straining the Mandioca. the CaoacitV 

can be increased by simply forcing the ends together, caus- 
ing the elastic sides to bulge out ; in this shortened condition 
it is filled. Now, if it is hung up and drawn out forcibly, the 
mass within will be compressed and the juice will run out 
through the interstices ; in the same manner a farmer's wife 
strains whey from a cloth bag. To increase the pressure, a 
lever is passed through a loop in the lower end of the tipiti ; 
a heavy stone may be attached to the lever, but our brown 



operator finds it more convenient to sit on the end of the 
pole ; the juice streams out and flows into a pan below.* 

A small portion of the poison still remains, but it is very 
volatile, and will be removed by the roasting process. The 
fitriio on which this is done is a thick earthen pan, six feet in 
diameter, supported by a circle of abobe wall, with an open- 
ing on one side, so as to form a tire-place. Francisca has 

Roasting Farmha. 

already kindled a fire of brushwood under the furno. The 
lumpy mandioca from the tipiti is broken up on the pan. and 
roasted with constant stirring ; gradually the vile odor of the 
volatile juice disappears, leaving a fragrance like that of 
roasting corn ; as the farinha dries it is spooned out into 
pots and baskets. The warm grains taste like the parched 

* The starch which settles from this juice is the tapioca of commerce. The 
juice, boiled or fermented in the sun to extract the poison, and seasoned with 
red peppers, forms an excellent sauce for fish, the so-called tuciipi. 

384 BRAZIL. 

sweet corn that we used to prepare in the country. But the 
farinha will soon lose this brisk flavor, and become insipid ; 
one's teeth, too, rebel against the hard grains. It does not 
appear, however, that the old farinha is positively unwhole- 
some, and it is eaten by the poorer classes throughout Brazil ; 
often it is stored in baskets for a year. 

There are many other preparations of mandioca ; as, for 
\w'$,\2SiQ,Q., farinha seca^ obtained from the unfermented root, 
and the fine white carimci, farinha and tapioca together. 
And as, in other countries, corn, potatoes, sago, etc., have 
been made to yield alcoholic drinks, so these Indians make 
from the mandioca a beer-like liquor, which they often use 
in immense quantities. From this teriibd a very strong and 
crazing rum [cauiii*) is sometimes obtained by distillation ; 
but, fortunately for the race, this is not often seen. 

We wait in the shed only long enough to see the farinha 
packed away in baskets lined with broad, tough leaves. 
Within a few minutes the Indians weave these open pa7ieiro 
baskets, using, for material, strips of the tough coating which 
covers the leaf-stalks of iniriti and carand palms. Our fa- 
rinha-makers will not let us leave without a present ; so each 
of us carries away a great stalk of sugar-cane (the Indians 
plant a little in their rocas)^ and half a dozen bijtl cakes — 
another mandioca preparation. f 

* As Mr. Burton suggests, this word may be derived from caji'i, or cayfi, the 
name of a fruit, Anacardium occidentale (corrupted, in Enghsh, to cashew). 
From this fruit the Indians obtain a kind of wine, cayu-yg, cashew-water. The 
name may subsequently have been applied to all fermented drinks, and changed, 
in course of time, to its present form. 

+ The process of preparing mandioca, here described, does not differ essentially 
from the aboriginal method, which was in use from Paraguay to Florida. It is cu- 
rious to note that the Carib names for mandioca and its products, and for the uten- 
sils used in preparing it, hardly differ from the Tupi and Guarany. 


These Erere women are examples of industry. From our 
window we can hear, in the neighboring houses, a monoto- 
nous rat-tat-tat, as of some one beating on a muffled drum ; 
sometimes it comes from three or four houses at once ; we 
hear it at all hours of the day. As we are welcome every- 
where, we can follow the sound that comes through one of 
the low door-ways. Seated on a mat, pretty Maroca is oc- 
cupied in beating a pile of cotton into long fleeces as light as 
thistle-blows. She looks up with a smile, but does not stop 
her work. The cotton is laid across a large cushion ; the 
drumming noise that we heard was the tap of her caranci 
beating-wands on this cushion. She handles the airy mass 
deftly with her wands, forming it, as it is beaten, into a 
many-folded pile by her side. When the pile is large 
enough, it must be passed again across the cushion, and 
so on until it has been beaten five times ; then it is ready 
to be spun into cord. 

The aboriginal, and commoner, method of cord-making 
is with a spindle ; the fleecy cotton is first slightly twisted 
with the fingers, and then spun by rolling the spindle be- 
tween the hands. But at Erere a simple spinning-wheel 
has been introduced, a noisy little affair, the clatter of which 
may often be heard as the old women sit by their open doors 
making hammock-thread. Homespun clothing is no longer 
in vogue ; even the Indians find it cheaper to purchase 
American and French cloths of the traders. However, Jo- 
sepha will show us how the cotton is woven into coarse, ser- 
viceable hammocks. She has dyed some of the threads pale 
blue and yellow ; these are the woof, which, with the warp 
of white, will form a simple check pattern. She is seated 
now, tailor-fashion, before the simple loom — or rather frame, 
for it is nothing more ; every thread of the woof must be 



passed through the warp by hand — a task which might ap- 
pear formidable, even to our fancy-work maniacs at home. 
But Josepha sits all day with her pretty, modest eyes fixed 
on her work, and her hands — brown, but not unshapely— 


cleverly tucking the thread-bobbins through the warp. At 
the end of a month she will have a hammock as serviceable 
as any she could buy in the shops, and but for the miserable 
short-staple cotton cultivated here, the product would be 
much more valuable. 

I tell you I have a real respect for Josepha, a good 
wife and a good mother, keeping faithfully to her round 
of womanly duty as she understands it. It is true that she 
knows nothing of theology, but she is devout in her way, 
and holds the saints in reverence. It is true that her single 
iron kettle is scrubbed only on the inside, and there is a sit- 


ting hen in the corner of her parlor bedroom, and the tame 
pig is allowed to run about the house at its own sweet will ; 
but the bright-looking children are as clean as water will 
make them, and their clothes are well patched ; the earthen 
floor is carefully swept, and the space around the house is 
kept free from weeds and bushes. Probably she is not le- 
gally bound to her partner, for marriage among the younger 
Indians is not common, partly because it is considered un- 
necessary ; principally, I think, owing to the expense, ten or 
fifteen dollars being a heavy burden to these improvident 
people. But Josepha's man is a steady, hard-working fel- 
low, and very fond of her and the children, so it is not likely 
that they will ever be separated. The wonder is that these 
half-civilized people have come so near the high ideal of mar- 
riage. Their code of morality is certainly superior to that 
which holds among other classes on the Amazons. It is 
true that the younger women are inclined to be flighty, and 
you may see them with children which " have no father," so 
they say ; but later in life they grow steady, and are very 
faithful to their legal or de facto husbands. 

Child-life here is an exceedingly curious study ; the little 
quiet creatures are so different from our romping American 
boys and girls. They get few caresses and give none ; 
mother-love is mechanical ; there is nothing of that overflow 
of tenderness, that constant watchful care, that sheds such 
a halo around our homes. The babies vesfetate in their 
steady brown fashion, seldom crying or laughing, but lying 
all day in their hammock-cradles and watching everything 
around them with keen eyes. As soon as the little boys and 
girls can toddle about they are left pretty much to their own 
resources, tumbling up the back stairs of life on a diet of 
mandioca-meal and fish. The parents seldom punish their 

388 BRAZIL. 

children, for they are very docile ; when they do, the little 
ones pucker up their mouths and look sullen, but do not cry. 
Pleasure is expressed by a smile — among the little girls very 
often by a broad grin, with abundant show of teeth ; but an 
articulate laugh is a rarity. 

It is interesting to watch how the mental traits of the 
race appear even in the young babies. If a plaything is 
given them, they examine it gravely for a little while, and 
then let it drop. Observe how different this is from a white 
baby's actions. A bright little six-months-old at home has 
four distinct methods of investigation : first, by looking; sec- 
ond, by touching ; then by putting the object in its mouth ; 
and finally, by banging it against the floor. The brown me- 
nino just looks ; does not investigate at all. As the children 
grow older, the same trait is apparent in almost every case. 
An Indian is content to see or hear a thing, without troub- 
ling himself about the whys and wherefores ; even such in- 
comprehensible pursuits as fossil -collecting, or butterfly- 
catching, or sketching, provoke hardly any curiosity. The 
people look on quietly, sometimes asking a question or two, 
but soon dismissing the subject from their minds as some- 
thing they are incapable of understanding. With all the 
crowding to see the lady of our party, hardly a person asked 
why she came. So, too, the babies are unambitious ; they 
do not cry after pretty colors, or stretch out their hands to 
a candle. And the men have no apparent desire to better 
their lot. They go on just as their fathers did ; submit to 
the impositions of the whites, a little sullenly, but without 
a thought of rebellion, unless there is a white or a half-breed 
to lead them. The children do not care much for play- 
things ; we rarely see one with a rag doll ; the little boys 
delight in bows and arrows, but they take them as a part 



of their training. Sometimes the children have dances, in 
imitation of the festa sports ; and we hear them humming 
the waltzes and quadrilles which their quick ears have caught 
from the musicians. As an Indian will paddle steadily all 
day, while his wife at home hardly ceases her monotonous 

Indian Wonnan beating Cotton. 

cotton-beating, so the little ones have an inexhaustible gift 
of patience. Where a white child would fret and cry, the 
brown one sits all day, perfectly still, but watching every- 
thing around him. To see a little Indian boy in a canoe, 
you would say that nothing of him was alive but his eyes. 

Most of the boys get a little schooling, after the prev- 
alent fashion here : i. e, , about an equal amount of dry 
text-book* and smarting ferule. However, they are bright 

* No wonder that the Amazonian boys have so poor an idea of geography ; in 
all their school-books there is not a single map. 

390 BRAZIL. 

students, and soon learn to read and write the easy Por- 
tuguese language. Sometimes the children are taken into 
white families, where they do very well at first ; but as they 
grow older they become impatient of restraint, and dream 
moodily of their native wilds. So it generally happens that 
the boys embark in a trading or fishing canoe, and the girls 
elope with some admirer to parts unknown. The Brazilians 
complain loudly of this ingratitude. "After having had all 
the care and trouble of bringing up the children," they say, 
** we are deserted just when their services become valuable." 
It must be confessed that there is much reason for this com- 
plaint ; but I think that the unfaithfulness of their wards is to 
be attributed less to any positive badness of character, than 
to the childishness which remembers only the present, and 
forgets a past kindness. This childishness is shown, also, in 
the ease with which the Indians bear the loss of friends and 
relatives. I remember a striking instance. I had been liv- 
ing for some time in an Indian house ; it was of the better 
class, and occupied by a steady-going young man and his 
family. One of the women had a sickly baby, not more 
than three months old. The tiny thing required much care, 
and the mother paid more attention to it than a healthier 
child would have received. She never left it long ; if at 
work in the field she would come to the house every hour or 
two, to take it from its girl-cousin, though the latter, for an 
eight-year-old, was an excellent nurse. One morning the 
baby sickened, and lay moaning weakly for a few hours, 
until it died. There were no religious rites, except that, as 
the custom is, the child had been baptized just before its 
death. The mother laid the little body on a mat, and folded 
the thin fingers together, with a white flower or two ; it was 
all she could do, for they were too poor to aftbrd a funeral. 


But she sat looking at it, with the tears — she vainly tried to 
conceal them — rolling down her brown cheeks and falling on 
the little upturned face. Presently she turned away, and the 
men took the body out and buried it in the deep forest. 
That night there was an Indian ball near by, and I saw this 
mother, so lately bereaved, taking part, all smiles, in the 
merriment. I confess, I was shocked at first ; but then her 
grief in the morning was unfeigned, and there can be no 
doubt that she would have stayed away from the dance for a 
living child, though she did not for the dead one. It was 
simply the half-savage, childish nature — to grieve only at the 
moment of a loss, and then forget all about it. 

The Indians may be unfaithful to their white masters, but 
in their own circles they always retain a reverential love for 
their parents, and, as they grow older, take them under their 
care. At Erere we often notice the beautiful respect which 
age inspires. Many a touching picture one sees : a gray- 
haired patriarch, sitting before his door in the crimson 
sunset, and gravely giving his hand to be kissed by sons 
and daughters who come to honor him ; village children 
stretching out their palms for blessings from a passing 
old man ; young Indians bringing offerings of fish and fruit 
to decrepit old women, who have been left destitute, and 
are obliged to subsist on the willing charity of their neigh- 

On moonlit evenings the old people sit before their doors 
until near midnight, while the younger ones stroll around 
from house to house, gossiping with their neighbors, and 
carrying on sly flirtations under the orange-trees. Our own 
house is quite a centre of attraction ; the women come, three 
or four together, to pay their respects to the braiica and 
bring her presents of fruit, sugar-cane, a little fresh meat. 

392 BRAZIL. 

and so on ; they are well satisfied when they get a few soda- 
crackers in exchange. 

One evening, C. and I are seated before the door, watch- 
ing a partial eclipse of the moon which is taking place ; sud- 
denly a drum-like noise comes from some distant house ; 
immediately a gun is fired, and from another place a rocket 
goes whizzing over the trees. Here is a relic of the aborigi- 
nal superstitions. The old Tupis supposed that the life of 
the moon was like that of a man ; beginning very thin and 
small, he eats and grows until he is full and round ; then 
comes his period of decrepitude, he is weak and thin : 

*' His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide 
For his shrunk shank," 

until he dies, and gives place to another moon. But our 
friend, Joao Baptista, says the moon has not had enough to 
eat to-day ; some demon has stolen his farinha, and he goes 
half-starved. ** It was the belief of the ancients," says Joao ; 
** people nowadays know better." But nevertheless they are 
firing guns and beating on wooden mortars, to frighten away 
the evil spirit. It may be for some other purpose ; they are 
not sure ; they only know that their fathers succeeded in 
getting rid of the eclipse by making a noise ; there is the 
plain fact that the moon became full again, soon after the 
beating began, and it would be folly to neglect an observance 
so efficacious.* 

I think that the Indians keep up their religious observ- 
ances very much in the same spirit. They have no definite 
theology ; their religion is rather a vague and undefined awe 

* This custom of making a noise to frighten away the eclipse is found among 
many tribes of the Tupi-Guarany stock. I am informed that it is also met with 
in Turkey. 


of a higher power, which they all acknowledge, but do not 
seek to understand. It is true that they are nominally mem- 
bers of the Catholic Church ; but they show very little in- 
terest in the ceremonies ; their own Christianity is confined 
to a few simple observances, and they do not even clearly 
understand the import of these. 

Each year there is a grand festival in honor of the patron 
saint. For two or three weeks before, the little chapel is 
lighted up every evening, and the people gather to a kind of 
singing prayer-meeting ; the women kneeling devoutly on 
the earthen floor, while three men, before the little shrine, 
lead them in their simple chants. All the villagers know 
these hymns by heart ; they have very sweet and clear, 
though untrained voices ; certainly we have heard worse 
singing in a country church at home. And what if the 
women are dressed in calico, and the men standing around 
the door are coatless and barefooted ; the little crowd has 
the true spirit of devotion, though there is not one, perhaps, 
who could tell you whether they are worshipping the wooden 
saint in the shrine or a spiritual saint in the sky. The men 
kneel with the women to repeat the Lord's Prayer ; then all 
go up to kiss the saint's girdle and leave their contributions 
— a {qw coppers to purchase sugar and rum for the festa.^ 
After that they adjourn to a neighboring house, and spend 
an hour or two in dancing. 

The grand festival begins on Saturday evening. During 
the day, parties have been coming in from all directions, 
bringing their roupa de ver a Dens — ** clothes to see God in " 
— on their heads. Every house is crowded with guests, and 
many swing their hammocks to the trees ; the old women 

* Que voulez-vousf Our white heathen in the United States give twenty-five 
cents for a dish of strawberries, and call it charity. 



busy themselves in preparing sweetmeats and mandioca- 
beer ; the men 'build an arbor of boughs before the chapel. 
Everybody attends the final prayer-meeting, and devoutly 
salutes the saint ; then the dancing begins, in several houses 
at once, and is continued, with very little intermission, until 
Tuesday or Wednesday, as the refreshments last. Many of 
the young people get only five or six hours of sleep during 
this time. The dancers are orderly, and, for the most part, 
sober ; the old people sit around and watch them, and grow 
talkative, and enjoy themselves quietly ; and white clerks 
from town move about with a pleasing sense of their own 


The Sair§. 

glory. On Sunday morning there is an 'interlude, during 
which the grand breakfast is served. An ox has been killed 
for the occasion, and the guests eat as much as they please, 
with their fingers for forks. Ceremonious toasts are pro- 


posed in bad Portuguese and drunk in bad wine ; every- 
body says '' Viva / " in acknowledgment of everybody's sen- 
timents, and there is a solemn aping of all that is ridicu- 
lous in the grand dinners of the brancos. With this, the 
Indians feel that they have done their duty, and return to 
their sports with fresh unction. 

They dance rustic waltzes and quadrilles, not ungrace- 
fully, to the music of a violin and a little wire-stringed guitar. 
Then there is the favorite hmdil^ a kind of slow fandango, 
involving much snapping of fingers and shuffling of feet. 
The saracura * dance is led off by a special musician, a merry 
old fellow, who marches about the room playing a tiny reed 
flute with the right hand and beating a drum with the left. 
One after another the couples fall in behind him, tripping 
along with their arms about each other very lovingly, and 
keeping time to his music with a little jingling song, which, 
in English, would be something like this : 

" I swung in my drowsy hammock 
And wooed the forest boughs ; 
But they answered low : ' There's pain and woe 
In the lover's foolish vows.' 

Little fish in the deep, dark pool, 

Fickle sand of the sea. 
How can I ever love you alone. 

Since you will not alone love me ? 

What if I drift away, away. 

Alone on the ocean swell ; 
What if I die with no one nigh 

Of the friends who love me well ? 

* Saracura, name of a bird, Gallinula Cayennensis. 

396 BRAZIL. 

Yet I have the sun for my lover true, 

The moon for my lady bright, 
The sun to walk with alone all day. 

The moon in the silent night." 

Sometimes the dance is varied with figures, forming a 
circle, advancing to the centre, retreating to the ring again, 
and so on. It is simple, but very pretty. 

On Sunday evening, the old women take their turn with 
the sairc, a ceremony invented or adapted by the early Jesuit 
missionaries. The women pass from house to house, two of 
them in front carrying an arched frame, surmounted by a 
cross, and prettily trimmed. A ribbon, attached to the cross, 
is held by a third woman, who always walks behind. Invited 
in, the performers seat themselves on a mat, and are served 
with rum and sweetmeats, in respectful silence. Presently 
they rise and begin a monotonous chant, keeping time to the 
slow beating of the drum. Now they take three steps for- 
ward and three back, the two in front waving the frame 
before their faces, and the one behind following their move- 
ments and holding the ribbon above her head. The cere- 
mony goes on in this way for half an hour, with pauses at 
intervals. The old women hold themselves with a sedateness 
befitting their important office, gathering a touch of weird- 
ness from the flaring oil-lamps and the dark faces around. 
The song — a hymn in praise of the Virgin — is in the Indian 
language (lingua geral), which is hardly understood now, ex- 
cept by the old people.* 

*The Saire song varies in different localities. Two of the verses, commonly 
heard, may be translated as follows : 

"I. In a stone font the God-child was baptized. 

" Chorus. — Jesus and Saint Mary. 

"2. Saint Mary is a beautiful woman, and her Son is as beautiful as she ; in the 
high heavens he is sitting on a cross, to keep guard over our souls. Chorus, etc. 


These women have their heads crammed full of the abo- 
riginal superstitions. They will tell hobgoblin stories by the 
hour, sitting in the fire-light and hugging their knees with 
shrivelled arms until you think of witches, and half believe 
their myths. Sometimes, in our wanderings about the Serra 
and the plains, our guide points out the haunts of these 
spirits. We climb to the Tititira cave, and frighten out the 
bats, and imagine big snakes in the crevices around ; but the 
tititira does not come to scare us with horrid noises and 
strike us with invisible hands. In the forest we hear of the 
curupira, a bald-headed dwarf, with feet turned backward, so 
that those who see his tracks and try to avoid him will only 
run to their own destruction ; he entices hunters away by 
imitating the call of a imitum or a partridge ; then, when they 
have lost themselves in the thick woods, he kills them, and 
tears out their hearts and livers, and makes an unctuous 

But time passes, and we must leave Erere sleeping in the 
mellow sunshine. Farewell, honest, simple-hearted people ! 
Farewell, nodding palms, and shady orange-groves, and 
woodland paths ! The sunshine lies yet over the distant 
houses and tiny white chapel, but we carry away a little of 
it in our hearts — happy memories of this quiet spot. 



IN eastern and central Brazil, south of the Amazonian for- 
est, there is an extensive region known as the SertdOy'\ 
or wilderness. It forms a broad belt, extending from the 
Parnahyba river to the Sao Francisco. The northern por- 
tion lies close to the coast, but from Cape St. Roque south- 
ward there is a band of forest, separating the interior plain 
from the ocean. Beyond the Rio Sao Francisco, the Sertao 
is interrupted by the Brazilian coast-range, but behind these 
mountains it is prolonged southward into the province of 
Minas Geraes. To the west, its limits are far within the 
province of Matto Grosso. 

Without attempting to describe this whole region, I may 
confine my story to the single province of Ceara ; first, be- 
cause I know more about it ; second, because here the phy- 

* The present chapter is a mere restiTtie of the story of the drought. This is not 
the time to write its full history, for the record is not yet closed. Late advices from 
Ceara leave no doubt that 1879 is also a dry year. What the end vv'ill be, no one 
can say. A letter from the author, published in the New York Herald of Feb. 14th, 
1879, gives many particulars which are not noted here. 

t The word Sertao is often applied to all the wilder regions of Brazil, but it is 
more generally used, in the coast provinces, to designate the dry interior region. 
In Ceara it has a more limited meaning, being applied to the low, sandy plains, in 
contradistinction to the table-lands, or serras. 


sical characters of the sertao are most strongly marked ; 
third, because the great drought of iS/Z-'/S, though it was 
felt all over the sertao, seemed to have its black nucleus in 
this portion of it. 

Ceara is not at all like the Amazons region to which we 
have been accustomed. Like the rest of the sertao, it is a 
high, rolling plain, with abrupt elevations here and there, 
isolated hills and mountains or connected chains. These 
mountains, instead of being broken up into peaks, are nearly 
flat above ; they are, in fact, outlying fragments of the great 
central table-land. In height, they vary from two thousand 
to five thousand feet. 

The only high forest of Ceara is found on the mountain- 
sides, and even there, nothing is found to compare with the 
luxuriance of the Amazonian woods. The flat hill-tops, and 
the plains below, show either a thin forest growth, like a 
northern wood, or open country, pastures and sandy tracts, 
with groves about the river-courses. 

The grand peculiarity of the sertao — that which distin- 
guishes it from all other parts of Brazil — is the marked divi- 
sion of the seasons. From June to December the rains cease 
almost entirely ; the streams and rivers disappear, except 
along the mountain-sides ; on the plains, water can only be 
obtained by digging holes along the dry courses. The trees 
cast their leaves as a northern wood does in winter ; birds mi- 
grate to the hills ; insects and birds aestivate as northern spe- 
cies hibernate ; grass dries up on the plains, and nature goes 
into her long summer sleep, to waken only with the early 
rains. The first signs of change com.e in September and 
October, with slight showers, the so-called chiivas de cajti.'^ 

* Cashew-rains, because the cashew-tree {Anacardium) flowers at this time. 

400 BRAZIL. 

Then, in December and January, there are other and heavier 
rains ; so heavy, indeed, that they sometimes cause serious 
losses, by flooding the plains and killing crops and cattle. 
But with these storms, the plant-world starts into new life. 
As, on a warm April day at home, you can almost see the 
leaves grow, so here the naked branches are covered as by a 
miracle ; grass springs up over what was barren sand ; ani- 
mal life appears once more, and after a week or two, the 
wilderness has become a garden. 

We do not yet clearly understand the laws which govern 
changes of seasons under the tropics. At Ceara the dry 
months, from July to January, are marked by the prevalence 
of regular trade-winds from the northeast, east, and south- 
east. The wet season, on the contrary, is distinguished by 
calms and variable winds. No doubt the two seasons are 
intensified by the nature of the soil, a porous sand almost 
everywhere. In the wet season tliis is constantly moist, but 
never flooded ; the rains are quickly distributed to the thirsty 
roots, and constant evaporation keeps the air cool and moist. 
But in the dry season, moisture sinks away from the surface, 
and only the dry soil is left ; dew is swallowed up and lost at 
once, and light showers, if they appear, do not effect the 
vegetation. The plains, which were smiling pastures and 
groves, become dry, cheerless deserts, scorched with heat 
all day, dry, though cool, at night. 

The character and customs of a people depend largely on 
the region that they inhabit. Thus, on the Amazons, the 
villages are along the river-shore, or within a few miles of it; 
the interior is untrodden wilderness. The poor folk there 
are fishers and hunters, as well as farmers in a small way ; 
communication is entirely by water, and a petty commerce 
is carried on by means of trading canoes ; seasons are regu- 


lated by the rise and fall of the current ; it is a river-world, a 
population dependent on this one mighty stream, and influ- 
enced by it in all their customs. 

In Ceara the forest was never thick, and roads were cut 
and kept open without difficulty ; they were, in fact, a neces- 
sity, for there is not a single navigable river in the province. 
The early settlers, attracted by the rich grass-lands of the 
interior, obtained grants of it from the Portuguese Govern- 
ment, and established cattle-farms ; they imported slaves or 
enlisted the services of the Indians ; lands and cattle were 
passed down from father to son, so that, in 1876, there were 
still estates that had existed intact from the colonial times. 

The result was, a scattered population, pretty evenly dis- 
tributed over the whole province ; numerous villages, which 
were so many commercial centres, each with a few thriving 
merchants, a lawyer or two, a physician, and so on — just as 
you will find in country villages in the United States. The 
whole population was sharply divided into proprietors and 
non-proprietors. The first, including the landholders, mer- 
chants, and so forth, were whites, with less intermixture of 
other races than is commonly seen in Brazil. Probably no 
other province, except, perhaps, Pernambuco, could show a 
class so intelligent and industrious ; physically and morally 
they were far superior to the average Brazilian of Rio or Sao 
Paulo. Perhaps they had no greater fault than being hot- 
headed politicians, and not always willing to give up party 
prejudices to the true interests of the country. 

But this class formed hardly a sixth part of the whole 
population, and even among them the number of educated 
families was surprisingly small. The great mass of non-pro- 
prietors formed a race by themselves ; the irregular mixture 

of Indian, negro, and white blood had resulted in a fixed 

402 BRAZIL. 

type, varying somewhat in color, but with certain unmistaka- 
ble characters that bound all together. In some respects 
they resembled the Amazonian Indians. The physical char- 
acters were very similar, and, like the Indians, the sertanejo 
was childish, improvident, impatient of control ; unlike him, 
he was very immoral, and filthy to the last degree. 

The ordinary dress of the men was a pair of white draw- 
ers, with a shirt hung loosely outside of them, and a broad- 
brimmed, leather hat ; a costume always cool, and not un- 
picturesque. The women wore only a skirt and chemise, 
with a cotton cloth thrown, hood-fashion, over their heads, 
to shield them from the sun. The boys and girls were con- 
tent with a white shirt. As these garments were hardly 
changed or washed from one year's end to the other, the 
original color was soon lost. As for the bodies underneath 
them, I suppose that the only washings they received were 
from the winter showers, or the rivers that they crossed. 

A certain number of the sertanejos were regularly em- 
ployed as herdsmen ; the rest were congregated about the 
villages or large estates, sometimes letting their services for 
a day or two, and planting little patches of mandioca and 
vegetables, or hunting on the mountains. They lived in 
palm-thatched huts, and, having no property of their own, of 
course paid no taxes to the state. 

In Ceara nearly all the land was private property, and 
much of it, as I have said, was included in large estates. 
Hence there had resulted a kind of mild feudal system. The 
dependents of the old Portuguese proprietor had given rise 
to numerous families, many of whom still lived on the estate, 
and were permitted to cultivate small portions of it, rent 
free. In return for this, they were obliged to give their 
services for one or two days in the week, as the patrao de- 


sired ; for such labor, they were regularly paid at the rate of 
thirty or forty cents per day. These people were known as 
aggregados ; the landlord exercised the office of a magistrate 
among them, and, as his rule was reasonably just, the poor 
people hardly ever rebelled against it. In fact, they were 
attached to his interests almost blindly ; in the last century, 
and even in the early part of this one, they sometimes served 
as armed retainers, in the petty political wars or private quar- 
rels of the richer class. But with the advance of republican 
ideas, this feudal tenure lost much of its force. 

As canoe-life is a part of Amazonian travel, so one's 
memories of Ceara will always be connected with long rides 
over the picturesque country-roads. The horses here were 
small, slender-limbed, gentle, and as easy-going as rocking- 
chairs ; the best of them were pacers, and it was no un- 
common thing for a rider to make sixty miles or more 
a day, often on very rough ground, and this for weeks to- 

Almost all the produce of the province was carried on 
horses. It is true that there were clumsy, wooden-wheeled 
ox-carts, but these were seldom seen ; throughout the coun- 
try the traveller met long cavalcades of horses, each with a 
heavy pack slung over its back. Often these packs were 
bundles of hides folded square ; or bales of cotton, or sacks 
of sugar ; if the caravan were passing in from the coast, there 
were leather trunks and sacks, filled with provisions and 
clothes. Sometimes, in long journeys, leather water-bottles 
were carried, one on either side of the saddle. Most of the 
horses in these cavalcades were without halter or bridle ; a 
few only were mounted by boys or men, who perched them- 
selves above the packs, with their feet dangling on either 
side of the horse's neck, or crossed over it. Women rode in 



the same way, often with their children in baskets, slung, like 
the packs, one on either side of the horse. Two or three 
men, armed with guns and swords, kept guard over each 
caravan, and, to vary its character, a few mules were often 
mingled with the horses, and perhaps a sheep, with a small 
pack like the rest. 

A principal commerce of the country was in hides and 

J -J ^?A^ 

Road-side Scene, Ceara. 

jerked beef. Before the drought, many of the proprietors 
counted their cattle by tens of thousands, and kept some 
hundred herdsmen under their orders ; men who were in 
the saddle half their lives, so that riding became an instinct 
to them. Some of their feats were astonishing. Clad in full 
leather suit — ^hat, coat, vest, breeches, and long boots, — they 
would ride after a wild bull, at full gallop through the tangled 
forest, regardless of thorns and smaller branches, dodging 


tree-trunks, and passing through openings such as no sane 
man would venture at in cold blood.* 

Cattle-raising was almost confined to the warm plains. 
Along the cooler mountain-sides there were plantations of 
sugar, coffee and cotton, and all these articles were exported. 

Ceara has no harbor, but a few ports are scattered along 
the coast. The largest of these is the capital, Fortaleza. In 
1876 it contained about twenty-five thousand inhabitants. 
The streets were wide and clean, and the whole appearance of 
the city was very pleasing. Ships anchored in the open road- 
stead ; freight was carried in lighters, and passengers and 
luggage on jaiigadas.^ Like the interior of the province, 
the capital was, normally, very healthy ; and being always 
cooled by the sea-breezes, the heat was never oppressive. 

Pass the preceding statements in review. In 1876 the 

* "When the oxen are to be collected for the market, the service is more dan- 
gerous, and frequently the rider is under the necessity of throwing the animal to the 
ground by his long pole. On the man's approach, the ox runs off into the nearest 
wood, and the man follows as closely as he can, that he may take advantage of the 
opening of the branches, which is made by the beast, as these shortly close again, 
resuming their former position. At times the ox passes under a low and thick 
branch of a tree; then the man likewise passes under the branch, and that he may 
do this, he leans to the right side, so completely as to enable him to lay hold of the 
girth of his saddle with his left hand, and, at the same time, his left heel catches the 
flap of the saddle ; thus, with the pole in his right hand, almost trailing upon the 
ground, he follows without slacking his pace, and being clear of this obstacle, again 
resumes his seat. If he can overtake the ox, he runs his goad into its side, and if 
this is dexterously done he throws it. Then he dismounts and ties the animal's legs 
together, or places one foreleg over its horns, which secures it most effectually. 
Many blows are received by these men, but death is rarely occasioned." — Koster: 
Travels in Brazil. 1817. Vol. i., p. 235. 

t The jangada is a small raft, with a raised staging at one end, and a great tri- 
angular sail. The passenger is carried through the surf safely, if he holds on tightly 
enough. If the surf is at all high the baggage gets wet ; the passenger does, in any 



province contained nine hundred thousand inhabitants, or 
more than the whole Amazons valley. Of these, perhaps 
one hundred and fifty thousand were proprietors, and pos- 
sibly twenty thousand could be called rich men ; but the 
riches consisted of cattle and farms, and the yearly revenue 
was derived from the sale of produce. Seven hundred and 

A Jangada in the Breakers (from Keller). 

fifty thousand poor people had no landed property. Possi- 
bly one hundred and fifty thousand of these were regularly 
employed ; the rest lived on the yearly products of their 
little plantations, and by hunting, or doing a day's work oc- 

The whole population was dependent on the fertile soil 
for its sustenance. Herds were pastured on the grass lands ; 


herdsmen and proprietors had no income beyond the stock 
farms ; merchants could only sell where the herds or planta- 
tions gave means of buying ; there were no manufactures ; 
the province was exclusively an agricultural community. 
And the earth, the mother of all, depended for its fertility on 

The wet season is the time of plenty for the sertao. 
With the first showers, the poor people have prepared their 
little plantations of mandioca and vegetables, and the richer 
proprietor has started his fields of sugar-cane or cotton ; the 
lean cattle fill out their sides and rejoice in abundant pastures 
and sparkling streams; and in the village chapel, the peasants 
gather to give thanks for the blessing of rain. 

Sometimes the early weeks of December pass without the 
customary showers ; then the peasants come, on St. Lucia's 
day, to pray for a good year. But the weeks pass on, and 
every morning brings only the same bright sky, or, if pass- 
ing showers give some hopes of winter, succeeding days of 
rainless weather dash them to the ground. January, Feb- 
ruary, March : no rain, and the cattle are dying. Now, 
with tears and bitter cries, the people appeal to St. Joseph, 
that they may yet be blessed with a good year. April : the 
twice or thrice planted fields have dried up. May comes 
with a spiteful shower or two, useless now because too late ; 
and then the summer sets in, and all hope must be trans- 
ferred to another year. But, before that year comes, men 
will die of hunger. 

This is the drought, the terrible secca of the sertao. 
There are many on record. The earliest of which we have 
any definite account, was in 171 1. About 1723 there was a 
very severe drought, in which whole tribes of Indians per- 

408 BRAZIL. 

ished, and the cattle were almost destroyed. In 1777-7^ 
there was another period of suffering. Still worse was the 
great secca of 1790, which lasted three or four years, and 
almost depopulated the province. '* It was not unusual," 
wrote an eye-witness, *' to find habitations where, by the 
side of putrefying bodies, lay wretches still alive, and covered 
with blood-sucking bats, which the victims had no strength 
to drive away." * 

Of the terrible drought of 1824-25 the people of Ceard 
retain many traditions. The best description of it is that 
given by Dr. Thomaz Pompeu de Souza Brazil. I ven- 
ture to translate it almost entire : 

" The year 1824 was bad, and 1825 was very dry ; there were, how- 
ever, a few rains about certain river-courses, which caused a little grass 
to spring up, but not enough to keep the cattle through the year. The 
effects of the physical calamity were aggravated, first by the concourse 
of moral causes, and afterward by pestilence. From 1821 and 1822, the 
public mind had been agitated by the Portuguese revolution, and the 
establishment of Brazilian independence. In 1824 this was followed by 
a republican revolution, and the monarchical reaction extended through 
the year 1825. The year 1824 had bequeathed to its successor, not 
only drought, but penury and desolation, from civil war and assassina- 
tions ; 1825 was ushered in, and continued under the influence of this 
triple calamity : drought and famine, civil war, and the pestilence of 
small-pox. This accumulation of calamities was still further aggravated, 
by the extensive enlistment of the able-bodied men who were left in the 

"The cattle estates were ruined; what escaped the drought was 
carried off by robbers. Many farms were abandoned, and immense 
districts of the sertao were completely deserted. The mortality in the 
interior settlements, and even in Fortaleza, was horrible. In the larger 
villages, the victims of hunger were few, because food came from be- 

* P. Joaquim Jose Pereira, in Revista do Institute Historico e Geographico. 


yond the province ; but the agglomeration of immigrants from the inte- 
rior tended greatly to increase the death-rate. It is estimated that a 
third of the population died of famine, assassinations, pestilence or 
hunger, or were drafted into the army, or migrated to other provinces. 

*' The interior of the province was almost deserted. Herdsmen and 
farmers sought refuge in Fortaleza and Sobral, or the larger settle- 
ments, against the famine and robbers. A mixed band of these latter 
overran the sertao, and took possession of all they found, as in a time of 
open communism. The unfortunate people, fleeing from hunger and ban- 
dits, flocked to the larger villages. By the road-sides, in the fields, in 
the very streets and squares, unburied bodies were left of those who had 
fainted by the way. 

*' The pestilence of small-pox, which followed or accompanied the 
famine in the beginning of 1826, completed the destruction of the indi- 
gent population which had flocked to the capital. 

" The lack of rains in 1825 was not so complete that no pasturage 
was left ; in some of the river-courses a little grass sprang up, and at 
least one-tenth of the cattle escaped. 

" It does not appear that the General Government, during the year 
1825, took the least interest in lessening the misfortunes of the people. 
Only at the end of the year 1826, or in 1827, when the evil had passed, 
a little farinha was sent to Ceara. The product of an extensive sub- 
scription, started in Para by the virtuous D. Romualdo, Archbishop of 
Bahia, was delivered to a certain merchant of Fortaleza ; according to a 
report of the provincial president, this man retained the money, send- 
ing orders to his debtors in the interior, to distribute aid on his account ; 
but they had nothing to distribute."* 

Passing by the less fatal drought of 1844- '45, we hear of 
no more dry years up to 1877, the beginning of the greatest 
and most terrible secca of all. 

The winters of 1875 and 1876 were both severe, with tor- 
rential rains, causing much damage to the crops and cattle. 
There was political mismanagement in the province ; this, 

* Pompeu : Memoria sobre o Clima e Seccas do Ceara, p. 20. 


and the floods, with their resulting losses, had nearly emp- 
tied the treasury. In the interior the laws were only half 
enforced, and many cases of robbery, and even murder, were 

In February, vague rumors of drought began to circulate 
in Fortaleza. The rains about the city had been few and 
light ; letters from the interior stated that the first plantings 
had been lost, and that cattle were suffering from lack of 
pasturage and water. There the cJitroas de caju had not 
been felt at all, and there were no January rains. By the 
first of March, the prospect was still worse ; the bishop 
ordered prayers in all the churches, ad pretendam plicviain. 

Still there were hopes of a good year. The winter, it 
was said, might be delayed without causing irreparable dam- 
age to the crops and herds ; rains would come in March and 
April, and all would be well. So reasoned the Cearenses, 
and so reasoned the Government officers at Rio ; if, indeed, 
they ever gave a second thought to the short notices which 
appeared in the papers. But March and April and May 
passed on, and in some districts there were no rains at all. 
The scanty pasture of January was dried up ; the plantings 
had failed utterly ; all through Ceara the drought was de- 

Already there were stories of want and hunger at Ico, 
Principe Imperial, twenty other interior towns ; at Telha the 
poor people were suffering terribly, and even famine-deaths 
were reported among them. Everywhere the peasants were 
deserting their plantations, and crowding to the larger vil- 
lages in search of food. The herdsmen, hopeless of saving 
their cattle, began to slaughter them to secure the hides and 
tallow ; hence, for a time, there were deceptively large ex- 
ports of these products. While the cattle slaughter lasted,. 


there were few deaths from absolute hunger ; the poor went 
begging of the rich, and readily obtained bits of meat. But 
when the herds were gone, the peasants began to starve. 
From the villages there went up a great cry for food ; two 
hundred thousand people were begging from door to door. 

In April and May good men listened and gave freely ; in 
June and July good men turned away and cried in their 
hearts to God, for they had nothing to give. The Cearenses 
are kind-hearted and hospitable ; many an one gave up his 
own poor dinner to feed his poorer brother ; but they could 
not give forever. The herdsmen were ruined ; the farmers 
had nothing to sell ; the merchants could not collect their 
bills ; the whole country was poverty-stricken. In a few 
spots, where the grass was not all gone, bands of cattle- 
thieves kept thinning out the remaining herds. The peas- 
ants, when charity failed them, wandered through the dry 
woods looking for miiciunan* seeds, and the roots of certain 
shrubs, like the pdo de moco. As the summer wore on, 
many, even of the richer class, were obliged to resort to this 
unwholesome food. 

Small supplies of provisions came in from other provinces, 
and were sent to the interior towns on the backs of horses ; 
but often the animals died on the way, or the caravans were 
robbed. In some places, where they had no horses, pro- 
visions were brought in on men's shoulders. The few bas- 
kets of mandioca-meal, obtained in this way, were retailed 
by the merchants at fabulous prices — frequently eight or ten 
times above the normal — so that only the rich could buy. 

* The mucuman is like a sea-bean, and belongs, I believe, to the same genus. 
It contains a starchy substance, which the starving people used in place of mandi- 
oca-meal ; but it almost always brought on dropsy and death. These poisoning 
cases were frequent during the drought. 

412 BRAZIL. 

The universal credit system of Brazil created fearful evils. 
Merchants, who saw ruin staring them in the face, were hard 
creditors ; to save themselves, they hastened the ruin of 
others, seizing the few cattle that remained, and the little 
property that might be sold to obtain food. Let us not 
unduly blame these men. Many of them were ruined with 
the rest, because they would not claim their own. 

Long, long was the summer of 1877. Drought blazed in 
the sertao ; the birds fell dead from leafless trees ; foxes and 
armadillos died in their holes ; insects disappeared. Drought 
withered the sea-coast woods, dried up the streams, brought 
thousands of refugees to Fortaleza and the interior towns. 
Drought sent famished cries to Rio, but the mad Govern- 
ment could not believe that its people were starving : cried 
back through its journals that the whole story was a political 
scheme, with hardly a foundation of facts. Late in the year, 
they reluctantly voted a million of dollars to the sufferers, 
and this was applied very slowly. The Brazilian people 
were not so dull-eared. At Pernambuco they had an aid 
commission for Ceara in May. Maranhao and Para were not 
far behind ; and then the populace of Rio took up the work, 
organized fairs and parties and balls to aid the sufferers, 
levied subscriptions on the public streets and in the parks 
and gardens, freighted ships with provisions. Not as New 
York would have done ; but the subscriptions were large for 
Brazil, and would have been larger had the real magnitude 
of the evil been known. 

October, November, December, passed slowly, and the 
Cearenses began to look forward hopefully to the January 
rains. But meanwhile at Fortaleza, Ico, Telha, Principe Im- 
perial, the peasants had gathered by thousands, living in 
hastily constructed huts and begging daily for food. Relief 



commissioners were appointed, but they had Httle money, 
and hardly any provisions at their command ; many of them 
were composed of incompetent men, and some were palpa- 
bly dishonest. Private charity saved many, but already, in 
July and August, scores of deaths from starvation were 
recorded. In October and November these deaths were 
counted by their daily rate : ten, fifteen, twenty even in 
a single refugee 
camp, where per- 
haps ten or fif- 
teen thousand 
were gathered. 
Vastly more 
numerous were 
the deaths from 
disease. The 
filthiness of the 
camps, and of 
the refugees 
combined with 
the lack of food, 
made them a 
ready prey to 
epideipics. First came fevers ; then the curious, paralytic 
beri-beri ; then small -pox, which, happily, was not wide- 
spread at this time, though it steadily gained ground. The 
authorities neglected to enforce any efficient sanitary meas- 
ures ; the Provincial Government was weak, and the people 
looked on helplessly. Throughout the province, probably 
fifty thousand people died during this first famine-year. 

At the beginning of 1878 the condition of the province 

Group of Refugee Children (from a photograph.) 

414 BRAZIL. 

was this : The open country was generally abandoned ; 
nearly the whole population was gathered about the villa- 
ges, and the plains were left, black and desolate. A large 
proportion of the cattle had perished ; the plantations were 
withered except on a few fertile hill-sides, as at Baturite, 
where running water still came down from the springs. Be- 
tween the interior towns and the coast there was a band of 
almost impassable wilderness, where the ground was utterly 
dry, where not so much as a blade of green grass appeared, 
where the river-beds were strips of heated sand and clay, 
yielding no water, even by the usual method of digging 
holes to the subsoil. At Ico and Telha, the death-rate, 
from starvation alone, was more than a score each day. 
These desolate plains and famishing people were ruled by 
a weak government ; the provincial treasury was almost 
empty ; provisions sent from Rio were locked up in the 
public storehouses, held back, no one knew why, when the 
need was most urgent. 

January came and crept on, day after day, with clear 
skies. After awhile there were a few little showers, just 
moistening the surface, and bringing up stray blades of grass ; 
but the first planting failed utterly. 

February. Men's hearts sank ever lower ; the peasants 
cast longing eyes to the bright blue above. In the villages, 
they formed penitential processions, cutting themselves with 
knives, carrying heavy stones on their heads, and crying and 
beating their breasts. Poor things, it availed them little 
enough ! The winter did not come, and the death-lists rose 
to frightful figures.* Drought-stricken, starving Ceara saw 

* A friend, who was at Acaracu just before the great exodus took place, affirms 
that eight hundred deaths occurred there from the 7th to the 15th of February, 
and that the larger portion of these were caused by starvation. It is difj^cult to be- 



another year of drought and starvation coming down upon 

First of March, and no rains. Government aid almost 
withdrawn. No food left in the villages ; no hope for the 
starving peasants. Then, as by one impulse, a wild panic 
caught them. Four hundred thousand, they deserted the 

The Exodus. 

sertao and rushed down to the coast. Oh ! it was terrible, 
that mad flight. Over all the roads there came streams of 
fugitives, men and women and little children, naked, lean, 
famine-weak, dragging wearily across the plains, staining the 
rocky mountain-paths with their bleeding feet, begging, 

lieve this ; yet I know that my informant had every opportunity for observation, 
and it is not probable that he exaggerated wilfully. In Crato, from February 
loth to March i8th, the number of famine-deaths recorded was six hundred and 
sixty-four ; in Corin, during the same period, nearly four hundred were registered. 
This includes, in part, the time of the great exodus, when the mortality was 

4l6 BRAZIL. 

praying at every house for a morsel of food. They were 
famished when they started. Two, three, four days at 
times, they held their way ; then the children lagged be- 
hind in weakness, calling vainly to their panic-wild fathers ; 
then men and w^omen sank and died on the stones. I have 
talked with men who came from the interior with the great 
exodus ; they tell stories of suffering to wring one's heart ; 
they tell of skeleton corpses unburied by the road-side, for 
a hundred thousand dead * were left by the w^ay. If you 
ride to-day through the sertao you will see, in many places, 
a wooden cros? by the road-side, marking the spot where 
some poor wretch expired. So let them rest. Poor peas- 
ants they were, ignorant and coarse and filthy ; but they are 
canonized now, with the glory of great suffering. 

By the first of April, the interior of the province was al- 
most deserted ; but now the scene of suffering was transferred 
to the coast. At Fortaleza, nearly a hundred and fifty thou- 
sand people were gathered ; at Aracaty there were eighty 
thousand ; at Granja and Baturite, lesser armies ; all crying 
for food, crying with the eloquence of starvation, showing 
their emaciated bodies, weeping and cursing before the doors 
of the aid commissioners. Even if suppHes had been never so 
abundant, the commissioners might well have quailed before 
such a demand. So great was the flood, so sudden in its 
panic-burst, that all the available supplies were too little. 
Men who had waited all day to receive a scanty ration, had 
to turn away, empty-handed. Long processions of mendi- 
cants passed through the streets, begging at every door ; 
many were utterly naked ; many fell in the streets from 
weakness. Some who had food given them could not swal- 

* Some say a hundred and fifty thousand. 


low it, SO great was their exhaustion ; they died even in sight 
of plenty. More than one body was picked up in the very 
streets of Fortaleza.* The merest scraps of food were ac- 
cepted with tears of gratitude ; garbage-piles were searched 
for melon-rinds and banana-skins. A trader at Baturite told 
me that a refugee asked permission to kill rats in his store, 
that he might eat them. Dead horses and dogs were de- 
voured ; there are dark stories of cannibalism which may be 
true. God only knows, for little heed was taken of horrors 
in this time of dismay.f 

But now came good news from Rio. A year of suffering 
was not enough to open the official eyes, but this terrible 
stampede did it. The new Sinimbii ministry awoke to the 
situation ; it acknowledged that there was drought in the 
sertao. The senators and delegates woke up and voted a 
fund of ten million dollars to the sufferers. A new president 
was appointed to Ceara ; the provincial government was re- 
solved into a great aid commission, almost the only business 
of which was to provide for the poor. Loads of provisions 
came in by every ship ; sub-commissions were appointed for 

* I have a series of photographs, which were taken in Fortaleza at this time, 
and they speak more eloquently than words can of the terrible suffering which ex- 
isted. The photographers told me that the subjects were picked up at random in 
the streets, and the most were found, as they are seen in the pictures, perfectly 
naked. I can compare these photographs to nothing but the pictures of Ander- 
sonville prisoners, which were published during the war ; it seems impossible that 
such skeletons could have lived. 

1 1 have little reason to doubt one of the stories, which came to me from a reli- 
able source. My informant stated that a man, who had been four days without 
food, was lying alone in his hut, when a child came in. The child was well fed 
and fat, and the man was ravenous with hunger. He enticed the child to him, 
killed it with a knife, and ate a portion of the body ; but a few hours after, he 
died from the effects of his horrible feast. Another story is of a woman, who 
killed her little brother for food. I believe that such cases may have arisen from 
insanity, a common result of starvation. 

4l8 BRAZIL. 

every village that was not utterly deserted ; money and sup- 
plies were furnished liberally. 

This was well, but with it a fresh evil arose. The money 
should have been used in giving honest work to the people ; 
they should have been employed in constructing railroads, 
improving the harbor — anything to keep them from idleness. 
But the government gave alms, daily rations to be had for 
the asking. So it came about that the refugees looked upon 
this charity as their right ; they lived in indolent inaction ; 
would not work Avhen they could. Free steamer-passages 
were given to those who wished td emigrate, and thousands 
went to the neighboring provinces ; single vessels were 
freighted with many hundreds.* But the refugees carried 
the same mendicant spirit with them ; in Para and Pernam- 
buco they lived on public charity, or, if they engaged for 
awhile in steady work, they soon returned to street-begging 
and the public rations. 

At length, in July, the Government sent engineers to 
Ceara, with orders to locate two railroads and employ on 
them all the able-bodied refugees. At the head of this 
work was placed Sr. Carlos Morsing, a Brazilian by birth, 
half-German by descent, and American by education. This 
gentleman took up his task with commendable zeal and en- 
thusiasm. He was opposed by politicians and the adverse 
press ; the refugees, at first, cried loudly against his rule ; 
but with plenary powers from Rio, and ready aid from the 
president, he fought his way on steadily. There was an old 
railroad from Fortaleza to Pacatuba, about thirty miles ; this 
was in bad condition, and a dead loss to the company that 

* The refugees were often crowded on the open decks, and poorly fed ; their 
filthiness almost made the ship unendurable to the other passengers. In one or 
two instances small-pox broke out on board, causing a fearful mortality. 


built it. The government bought this at a low price, and 
work was immediately begun on an extension to Baturite. 
A similar railroad was started at Aracaty. By December, 
fifteen thousand workmen were employed. The men re- 
ceived fifteen cents per day, besides their regular rations, 
which were stopped if they refused to work. Various pub- 
lic buildings were commenced at Fortaleza and elsewhere ; 
the relief service was placed in better hands, and, altogether, 
a better state of things seemed to be at hand. 

But now, following in the wake of famine, came pesti- 
lence. The refugees were huddled together about Fortaleza 
and Aracaty, barely sheltered from the sun in huts of boughs 
or palm-leaves. The camps were filthy to the last degree ; 
no attempt was made to enforce sanitary rules, and even on 
the sea-beach the peasants never washed themselves. To 
these camps came fever in its deadliest forms. For a time 
more than a hundred died each day at Fortaleza, and though 
this rate was lessened in July and August, it was only to give 
place to the greater death-roll of small-pox. 

At this time the adventitious population of Fortaleza had 
greatly decreased, from emigrations and death ; yet the 
whole number would not have fallen far short of 65,000, be- 
sides the normal population of about 25,000. During the 
three months of August, September, and October, the num- 
ber of small-pox deaths recorded in the government records 
was 1,472. Vaccination was never enforced here; the peas- 
ants avoided it, either from superstition or because they 
feared the pain. Crowded as they were, often a score in one 
hut, the disease ran like wildfire. On the 1st of November, 
99 small-pox deaths were recorded in the city, and on the 2d, 
124. From this time the rate increased steadily, until it 
reached a frightful figure. On the 30th of November it was 

420 BRAZIL. 

574, and the entire number recorded for the month was 
9,834, besides 1,231 from other diseases, making 11,065 i^ 
all. But this includes only the recorded burials in the public 
cemeteries. It is well known that many, despite of the law, 
were buried in the woods, or taken out to sea owjangadas 
and sunk. 

Still the death-rate went on increasing steadily. On De- 
cember lOth, 808 bodies were buried at the small-pox ceme- 
tery, and 36 in the city ground, making 844 in all. This 
was the maximum ; during the rest of the month, the rate 
decreased as steadily as it had risen. The entire number of 
small-pox burials registered during this month was 14,390, 
and there were over i ,000 deaths from other diseases. We 
find, then, that during the two months of November and 
December, the whole number of recorded deaths in Fortaleza 
was over 26,000, or between one-third and one-fourth of the 
population. Allowing for illegal and unrecorded burials, it is 
probable that fully one-third of the people perished during 
these two months.* 

Meanwhile, the epidemic had spread to the surrounding 
villages, where, in some instances, the death-rate was propor- 
tionally even greater than in Fortaleza. In Pacatuba, out of 
a population of 3,500, the rate for nearly a week was over 
100 per day. At a few places only — notably Baturite — the 

* During the year 1878, the entire number of recorded small-pox deaths at For- 
taleza was 24,769, and from other causes, 33,236 ; this latter number includes the 
deaths, during the early part of the year, from fever, beri-beri, and starv^ation. The 
dead from the refugee-camps of Mucuripe, Coco, and Alagadico, suburbs of the city, 
were buried in small cemeteries, and their number is not recorded. 

From January ist to July ist, 1879, when the epidemic was dying out, the num- 
ber of small-pox deaths recorded in the city was 2,340. 

These, and other statistics, were obtained through the kindness of the editor of 
the ' ' Cearensc " journal. 


epidemic was stayed by vaccination and effectual sanitary 

The entire mortality in Ceara, during 1877 and 1878. was 
probably not far from 500,000, or more than half the popu- 
lation. Of these, 50,000 died of starvation and disease dur- 
ing the first year ; 50,000 during the months of January 
and February, 1878 ; during March and April, which in- 
cluded the great exodus, at least 150,000 perished, the 
most from starvation. Fever and beri-beri carried off 
100,000, and small-pox, 80,000 more ; the remaining deaths 
were from various diseases, the majority more or less direct- 
ly traceable to starvation and weakness, and unwholesome 

My personal observations of this great calamity were con- 
fined to a part of December, 1878. I reached Fortaleza on 
the 19th of that month, when the death-rate from small-pox 
had gone down to about 350 per day. Aided by His Excel- 
lency, President Julio, and by Sr. Morsing, I was able, during 
the ten days of my stay, to make very careful observations, 
both at Fortaleza and in the interior. It is not a pleasant 
subject ; but as the facts I gleaned may have some historical 
value, I will epitomize them here. 

At first I saw very few signs of the pestilence. The city 
streets were clean and neat ; here and there I noticed refu- 
gees standing idly by the street-corners, and some of these 
had small-pox scars on their faces. About the public store- 
houses there were carts and porters carrying provisions ; no 
signs of starvation were apparent, for here the people had 
been well fed since May. 

I stopped to engage a room at the little hotel ; the land- 
lord, after some questioning, acknowledged that there were 
two small-pox cases in the house ; but added, truly enough, 

422 BRAZIL. 

that no better place could be found ; the sick here were care- 
fully isolated, and well cared for. 

I was much impressed with the apparent indifference of 
the people to their danger. The pestilence was, indeed, an 
universal subject of conversation, but everybody seemed to 
rest in an easy fatalism or blindness ; speaking of the daily 
death-rate as one tells of the killed and wounded in a bat- 
tle — a real event, but far away. I did not hear of a single 
resident who left the town on account of the danger ; there 
was the usual amount of dissipation and flirtation ; the market- 
square was crowded, and men drove hard bargains ; in out- 
ward appearance the little city had hardly changed since 1876. 

Later in the day, I walked out to the refugee camps on 
the southern side of the city. The huts were wretched be- 
yond description ; many were built of boughs, or of poles, 
covered with an imperfect thatch of palm-leaves, and patched 
up with bits of board and rags. Here whole families were 
crowded together in narrow spaces ; filthy, as only these 
Ceara Arabs can be ; ragged, unkempt, lounging on the 
sands, a fit prey for disease. No measures had been taken 
to cleanse the camp ; the ground, in many places, was 
covered with filth and refuse ; water, obtained from a pool 
near by, was unfit to drink. If the pestilence was hidden In 
the city, it was visible everywhere about the camps. Half- 
recovered patients sat apart, but scarcely heeded ; in almost 
every hut the sick were lying, horrible with the foul disease. 
Many dead were waiting for the body-carriers ; many more 
would be waiting at the morning round. Yet here, among 
the sick and dying and dead, there was the same indiffer- 
ence to danger that I had noticed in the city. The peasants 
were talking and laughing with each other ; three or four 
were gathered about a mat, gambling for biscuits ; every- 


where the ghastly patients and ghasther corpses were passed 
unnoticed ; they were too common to be objects of curiosity. 

Most of these people had come from the interior with the 
great exodus, and they had been fed by the Government for 
eight or nine months. As easily managed as children, they 
were, like children, fractious, and careless, and improvi- 
dent. From the first, they should have been placed under 
rigid military discipline ; with the guidance of competent per- 
sons, they should have been made to construct good houses, 
arranged in streets and sections, for their better government ; 
cleanliness of body and surroundings should have been en- 
forced under the severest penalties ; and every able-bodied 
man and woman should have been employed in work of 
some kind. But Brazilians everywhere are neglectful of sani- 
tary measures ; witness the dirty, badly-drained Rio streets, 
where yellow fever walks unstayed ; witness the epidemic 
that ran through the army during the Paraguayan war, carry- 
ing off far more than the enemy's bullets. 

In the morning I walked farther away from the city, 
where the strips of woodland were as bare as a winter land- 
scape at home, and only a few mandioca-fields had escaped 
the general ruin. Here and there I passed lonely huts. 
Once I stopped to ask for a drink of water, but the woman 
who was sitting before the door told me that she had none, 
for the nearest pool was half a mile away, and she was sick 
and could not go to fill the calabash. No doubt her story 
was true, for her face was scarlet with fever, and she com- 
plained of a throbbing headache, constant symptom of the 
dreaded disease. Within the hut were three children ; one, 
like the mother, was suffering with fever and headache ; an- 
other was covered with small-pox pustules ; the third child, 
a baby, was just dying. A man who was passing brought 

424 BRAZIL. 

some water to the hut. I suppose that the woman and chil- 
dren were carried to the lazaretto on the following morning, 
but among so many patients they could receive little care. 
The three hospitals were overcrowded, and new patients 
could only come in as the daily deaths and few recoveries 
left the cots vacant. 

There was a cemetery near the town, where the dead 
were buried decently, in separate graves. But this was the 
city ground, from which bodies of those who had died of 
small-pox were generally excluded. Two miles west of the 
city, a much larger ground received the pestilence dead. 
Every morning searchers examined the huts, and carried 
away the bodies ; as they were not allowed to take their bur- 
dens through the streets, they carried them around, either on 
the southern side, by a little-used path, or along the beach. 
At sunrise, when I went to bathe in the surf, a constant 
procession of these body-carriers was passing. Sometimes 
the dead were wrapped in hammocks and slung to poles ; 
oftener they were simply tied to the pole, two or three, per- 
haps, together, and so borne by two or four carriers ; child- 
corpses were thrown into shallow trays which were carried 
on men's heads. By eight o'clock the stream had lessened ; 
but all through the day the ghastly sight was repeated at 
intervals. People who lived near the beach became accus- 
tomed to this constant funeral, and gave little heed to it. 

At the Lagoa Funda ground the dead were buried in 
trenches, twelve together; '* unless," said one of the over- 
seers, ''they come too fast for the diggers; then we put 
fifteen or twenty in, conforine.'' The man had been here so 
long that he regarded the bodies as so many logs. For my- 
self, I was not yet educated to this point ; sick and faint, I 
turned away from the horrible trench and the fetid air. The 


bodies were buried deep, but under loose sand ; two thou- 
sand of these trenches were poisoning the air, and the stench 
was almost unbearable. It is recorded of the London plague 
that men died in the pits they were digging ; here the work- 
men had fallen dead, not from the disease, but from asphyxia, 
the result of foul air ; this happened only where a new trench 
was dug near an old one. It was very difficult to obtain men 
for this service, and no wonder. 

One of the largest lazarettos was close by the gate of this 
cemetery; indeed, all the bodies had to pass between two of 
the buildings, and through the open windows the patients 
could look out upon the endless procession. I suppose that 
they were too ill to heed it, but to the poor scrtanejo who 
saw his friend brought here, the hospital must have been 
almost identified with the cemetery. I was told that ninety 
per centum of the patients died, and it was a matter of con- 
venience to have the burial-place so near. 

At this time the hospitals were of little value, for they 
could not contain the thirty thousand sick, and the wards 
were so overcrowded that the patients received less care than 
they would have had in their own huts. It seems probable 
to me that, in a place so thoroughly infected, slight cases may 
have been aggravated by fresh poison, until the mortality 
was greatly increased. Be this as it may, the death-rate was 
very high here, and the disease assumed its worse forms. 

As in many other epidemics, the mortality was greatest 
among strong, vigorous men ; children often escaped. I was 
told of one merchant who had twenty-four workmen in his 
employ ; of these, seventeen died during November and 
December. Another man had nine clerks in his office, of 
whom he lost six within two weeks. Whole households 
were swept away. In many of the richer families, the ladies 

426 BRAZIL. 

were driven to the most menial services, because their ser- 
vants had died, and it was impossible to obtain new ones. 
Vaccination was not always a complete preventive, but it in- 
variably served to check the violence of the disease, so that 
the patient generally recovered. It was reported — with what 
truth I do not know — that men had been known to have the 
small-pox twice within a few months ; in this case the second 
attack was very slight. 

When the small-pox scourge was at its height, a strange 
and terrible disease appeared at Fortaleza ; by some this was 
supposed to be a new epidemic, and there were fearful whis- 
pers of black plague. It is probable, however, that this was 
an aggravated form of small-pox ; it was characterized by the 
appearance of black spots on the body, and I believe that 
the cases were invariably fatal, even before the pustules ap- 
peared. About the end of December, the wife of the provin- 
cial president was attacked with this ** black small-pox " and 
died within two days.* 

* A medical friend has furnished me with a note on the black small-pox, from 
which I extract the following : " Dr. James Copeland, in his Dictionary of Practical 
Medicine (American Edition, 1859, vol. iii., p. 894 et seq.), considers that in this 
variety of small-pox there is greater contamination and alteration of the blood than 
in the ordinary form. He says : ' The general appearance of these cases is often pe- 
culiar, and they are the most distressing and frightful manifestations of disease 

which can present themselves to our observation All the symptoms 

combine to impress the mind with the idea of a pestilence exceeding in severity and 
frightfulness of its aspect both the plague and the yellow fever ; and to suggest the 
idea of a general dissolution and putrefaction of the body, even before life has taken 
its departure. This malady was of more frequent occurrence formerly, before the 
introduction of inoculation and vaccination, than now, and was more common in 
some epidemic visitations than in others It is even now the not uncom- 
mon form of the disease among the dark races, especially the negro, and particularly 

when the distemper spreads by the inspiration of miasma from the infected 

Dr. Gregory has remarked, what I have reason to believe to be correct : namely, 
that death may take place in consequence of this remarkable condition of the blood, 
before any unequivocal signs of small-pox are developed." " 


Amid all this suffering the people celebrated the Christ- 
mas festival, with music and feasting and rejoicing. Of the 
two thousand men and women who knelt in the church, prob- 
ably many were infected, but no one seemed to fear the con- 
tact of a neighbor. Before the service, some who were dying 
were brought in hammocks to the church-door, to be con- 

I believe that the priests of Fortaleza did their duty well, 
all through the pestilence. There were, indeed, no funeral 
services and few ante-mortem confessions ; the death-harvest 
was too great. But I often saw the younger priests visiting 
the worst infected camps, not with attendants and gorgeous 
trappings, but alone, doing their work as the old missionaries 
did, in the face of danger. 

At Pacattiba I found the state of affairs even worse than 
at Fortaleza. More than half the inhabitants were stricken, 
and the daily death-rate was frightful. Here, crawling about 
the railroad station and begging, were diseased children ; 
here, at the house where I stopped, the servants were conva- 
lescent patients. I visited many huts in succession, and in 
each there were from one to five sick. 

From this point, almost to Batnr'ite\ I rode along the line 
of the new railroad, where thousands of workmen were em- 
ployed. Here the change was as agreeable as it was great. 
The workmen and their families were domiciled in good bar- 
racks, and the sick were rigidly isolated ; sanitary rules were 
enforced to some extent. Vaccination had been introduced, 
and no well man was permitted to be idle. Under these cir- 
cumstances, I found a steady improvement as I advanced, 
until I felt that I had left the pestilence and its horrors be- 
hind me. Then, indeed, the ride became a delightful one. 
Along the hill-sides there had been a few showers, and the 

428 BRAZIL. 

trees, which had been bare for eighteen months, began to 
put out a few timid buds. At Baturite there was running 
water, for the springs had held out even through two years 
of drought ; here the hill-sides, in many places, were fresh 
and green, with bright plantations and tangled forests ; it 
was an oasis in the wilderness. 

At Baturite, when the drought commenced, there dwelt a 
quiet, unassuming man, named Dr. Gomes Pereira. He was 
a lawyer, but practised very little ; nearly all his time was 
occupied in managing his large estate, for he was one of the 
richest men in the province. The Government, appreciating 
his worth, or his riches, made him Proinotor Publico ; that 
is, a kind of general overseer of all the public buildings and 
works in this vicinity. 

Early in the first famine-year, an aid commission had been 
established at this place, with Dr. Pereira at the head of it. 
When the great exodus took place, he worked night and 
day ; when public money was wanting, he put his hand in 
his own pocket, or bought on his own credit. Fifteen 
thousand people took refuge here, and many more passed 
through, on their way to the coast. The first rush was too 
great, even for his generosity ; his credit was exhausted, and 
provisions could not be brought in fast enough, so that even 
here, men died in the streets. Still he worked on. The 
Government paid for the provisions that he had bought in his 
own name in March and April, so he had wealth and power 
yet; they might have paid for his private charities, but he 
would not let them. 

This gentleman, who did not bluster, was a practical man, 
and had the gift of government. To the unwieldy mass of 
half-wild peasants, he brought order and law, so that this 
was the best-governed camp in the province. Already, in 



1877, he had made a great step in advance of the other aid 
commissioners. He saw the refugees coming in every day, 
begging in the streets or receiving food from the commission, 

and settHng into con- 
firmed mendicant habits. 
He saw that what was 
charity to a starving man, 
was moral poison to a 
strong one. He foresaw 

Refugees working on the Roads. 

that these refugees must 

be fed through long months, before they could return to their 

fields. And he set them at work. 

He was Proinotor Publico, as I have said. He set five 
thousand refugees to building a new town hall, a new church, 
a prison, cleaning streets, cutting roads, what not, to give 
them honest work. When the exodus came he enlarged his 
works, paying always with rations and a little money. There 
were political cries against him, of course ; he could afford to 
laugh at them. He made the men build thatched houses ; 
I found that these barracks were even better than those 
I had seen along the railroad — large, well ventilated, and a 

430 BRAZIL. 

sufficient protection. They were set around great squares, 
and in the middle of every square there was a larger build- 
ing which served as a kind of town hall. The food was 
given in exchange for labor ; only when the peasants were 
sick, or old; or too feeble from starvation to work, they 
were fed gratuitously. The working ones received about 
ten cents per day beyond the rations. These latter were 
quite as good as the peasants were accustomed to ; mandi- 
oca-meal, jerked beef and so on, in generous measure ; when 
it was attainable, fresh meat ; and always plenty of saccha- 
rine food to keep off the scurvy. 

It was discovered that some of the refugees were drawing 
two or three rations where they had a right to but one ; lazy 
ones did not prepare their food properly ; the health of the 
people was affected by irregular living. The aid commission 
resolved to issue cooked rations. Great ** hotels" were es- 
tablished, palm-thatched houses like the barracks, but cover- 
ing a quarter of an acre. Here the peasants came every day, 
with calabashes or bowls ; they were seated in rows, and the 
rations were served out to each in equal measure. There 
was a separate room for the newly arrived, who were still 
weak from famine ; they received more nourishing food, 
" until they get fat enough to go with the rest," explained 
Dr. Pereira to me : pointing out, with some pride, the result 
of his fattening process. In truth, it was worth seeing, how 
the poor, lean bodies and sunken eyes and bloodless faces 
were getting life with their generous fare. Aged and feeble 
ones had these finer rations always. Besides the cooked 
victuals, each peasant received a weekly parcel of coffee and 
sugar : the helpless and old were clothed, coarsely, but well, 
at Government expense. 

There were two hospitals, one for women, the other for 


men : both in charge of the good Dr. Sampaio. The sick 
were laid on clean beds, and tenderly cared for. But the 
hospitals were not very full when I saw them ; for what with 
system, and the enforcement of sanitary rules, and work in 
place of disease-feeding idleness, the epidemic all but disap- 
peared. Small-pox came, as it did in Fortaleza ; but the 
commission was quick with the preventive ; Dr. Pereira vac- 
cinated fifteen hundred refugees with his own hand ; the sick 
were isolated in a special hospital, two miles out of town ; 
and so effective were these measures that the disease almost 
disappeared. In December of this year the daily death-rate 
at Baturite was one in three thousand ; and the most of these 
cases were among the new arrivals. In Fortaleza, at the 
same time, the rate went as high as one in ninety, and at 
Pacatuba it was one in thirty. 

Another feature at Baturite was the forming of schools. 
These were for boys alone ; among the Brazilian poor, girls 
are hardly ever educated. The boys were taught to read 
and write, and some of them to cipher. The schools were 
held in the thatched town halls of which I have spoken. The 
pupils sat on one long bench, dirty and unkempt and bare- 
legged ; for these Ceara peasant-boys wear only a cotton 
shirt, and that, I think, is never washed. The boys were 
obliged to wash their faces ; that was as far as cleanliness 
could go among the refugees. Whatever else Dr. Pereira 
did, he never succeeded in making the peasants wash their 

Bare-legged and dirty, the boys were getting their little 
leaven of civilization, which will be felt in after years. You 
cannot catch these Arabs and turn them at once into enlight- 
ened people ; it will take generations of schoolmasters to do 
that. But somewhere you must begin. Future statesmen 

432 BRAZIL. 

these were not ; they will be peasants, like their fathers, but 
a shade better, a shade less dirty, because of this good deed. 
And deeds, good or bad, are never lost, any more than mat- 
ter and force are ; keep that in your souls, O ye thousands 
of silent masters ! 

I think now of Dr. Pereira, the plain man, the hero of 
deed without bluster : I think of my friend as I saw him in 
that great, unfinished shed, with the bare-legged peasant- 
boys, and the peasant school-teacher. The boys stood up in 
a row out of respect for their visitors ; the summer breeze 
came in under the eaves, and through the open door ; it 
tossed the rough locks, and played with the dirty shirts ; it 
fanned our cheeks coolly, and brought us wafts from the yet 
green mountain-woods. Do you think that this quiet man, 
in the palm-thatched school-house, deserved less praise than 
the heroes who telegraph " enemy's loss was immense ; " or 
whoop over their hundredth scalp-lock ? 

We rode about Baturite to see the public works that were 
being carried on with these peasant laborers. "The com- 
mission does thus and so ; the commission plans that," said 
Dr. Pereira ; but everywhere the workmen came with '^ Sen- 
hor the Doctor, how is this to be done?" " Senhor the 
Doctor, where shall we place that? " *' Senhor the Doctor, 
will you hear my grievance, and mine?" "Will you give 
us such and such favors ? " Oh ! it was easy enough to see 
the master-mind. The peasants knew ; and they knew whose 
was the kindest heart in the village, whose ear was readiest, 
whose purse was longest. The Doctor wrote orders on 
scraps of paper : ** Give this man so much coffee ; " " Supply 
rations for these new-comers;" '* Set the bearer at work 
in such a place." He went to the great kitchen (apologiz- 
ing for taking so much of my time, forsooth !) and there he 


must taste the rice and meat, examine the mandioca-meal, 
question the cook. Then again to the cemetery, the prison 
(he was Promotor Publico, yet, you must remember), where 
everything had to come under his eyes. So I perceived that 
this man had found a grand truth : " If you want a thing well 
done, see to it yourself." 

The peasants crowded around him, sometimes to make 
requests, oftener to look at him only ; if he dismounted for a 
moment, a dozen ready hands were there to hold the bridle ; 
the children stretched out their hands for a blessing ; the sick 
smiled when he passed by. And with the poor folk, as with 
the rich, you can tell in a moment whether a man be obse- 
quious or good-willed ; your Ceara peasant is a wonderfully 
transparent fellow, in his way. 

Such unwritten tragedies as there were under these rags ! 
We found one woman weeping quietly ; a bronzed, muscular 
woman this was, but her rags were clean, and she had four 
little black-eyed children, as pretty, with their bare legs, as 
your darlings are, good madame, and as intelligent-looking ; 
none the less praise for school-rooms and books, and neat 
shoes and stockings. Our bronzed woman was crying, and 
Dr. Pereira went and spoke to her at once. ** What is the 
matter ? " said he. 

All the floodgates gave way then, and this peasant woman 
sobbed and sobbed with the grief of her torn heart. The 
Doctor waited quietly and gravely ; he was used to such 
scenes. " What is it ? " he asked, at length. 

The woman had just come from the interior. Her hus- 
band, a Portuguese immigrant, had been a farmer in a small 
way ; he was very kind to her. They clung to the little farm 
all through this long drought, until October ; then they could 

yet leave their home with a horse to carry the children. 

434 BRAZIL. 

" But," she sobbed, " the horse died, and then my husband 
was hungry and sick, and he died; and the children, they 
had nothing to eat, and two of them died, and I buried them 
by the road and put a cross over them ; and now I pray for 
their souls. We have been here three weeks, and we have 
enough to eat, thank God ; the children are growing fat ; 
look, your honor ! " and she caught the youngest and kissed 
it, as you, madame, will kiss your pretty one when the father 
goes. "We thank God, we do," wept this mother; "and 
you mustn't mind if I cry sometimes. We were so happy 
in the good years." 

" Come to my house this afternoon," said Dr. Pereira. 
That was all ; but in the afternoon this family had clothes to 
put on in the place of their rags, and they had a hearty din- 
ner of fresh meat, and kind words from kind hearts, and an 
assurance that they would be looked after. A small matter, 
think you ? But this family had nothing in the world ; not 
even clothes, but only rags. 

They were not the only visitors that afternoon ; the Doc- 
tor was busy always with new-comers ; it was only toward 
night that he could get an hour of rest. Quiet he was, al- 
ways, governing the fifteen thousand under his charge. 

In the evening, I remember, there was a procession of 
some kind going up to the church ; the crowd of peasants 
cheered lustily as they passed the Doctor's window ; but he 
kept back in the shade, while the rest of us looked out at the 
crowd in the torchlight. Brave-hearted, pure-hearted friend ! 
When he rode over the hill with me in the early morning, 
and said good-by, because he must go back to his refugees, 
did I not vow that this hero should be known, and his deeds 
appreciated ? 

All over Ceara there was weakness, official incapacity, 


official sin. At Rio there was dawdling, and trifling with the 
famine question ; and five hundred thousand Hves paid for it 
all. In Baturite, there was one good man, one general who 
did not kill people, but saved them from being killed ; one 
man, in God's image and after God's own heart. Better that 
I should leave him there in his happy obscurity. But a good 
deed told is the leaven of a thousand other good deeds. 
Feebly I have told ; strongly, nobly this great man worked. 
He saved ten thousand lives, and he does not know at this 
day that he has done anything remarkable. That is the 
crown of his greatness. 



FROM the roadstead at Fortaleza, the flat-topped moun- 
tain of Pacatuba is plainly visible, and for an hour 
after we leave the anchorage, it still appears dimly, a con- 
stant landmark. As we steam on toward the east, we catch 
glimpses of other hills, far from the shore ; but these disap- 
pear after the first day ; then there are only white sand- 
ridges, lining the coast for hundreds of miles. 

Rarely we descry fishing-huts by the water's edge, and 
jangadaSy sailing-rafts like chips, pass close under the rail. 
Beyond these, we see no signs of life except at Rio Grande 
do Norte y where there is a fort, and farther back a town with 
white church-towers appearing over the sand-hills. We have 
to endure the customary delay here, while mails are ex- 
changed ; a Brazilian postmaster does nothing in a hurry, 
and commerce and pleasure alike must await his convenience. 

The next stopping-place is at Parahyba. The town is on 
the Parahyba river, some four or five miles back from the 
sea, and only light-draught vessels can ascend thus far. Our 
steamer passes up two miles with the high tide, and we go on 
to the city in a boat, while the captain prudently orders the 
vessel back to an anchorage outside the bar. 

Parahyba is a sleepy little country city, the capital of a 


small province, and deriving some commercial importance 
from its exports of sugar. The sugar-plantations are on the 
lowlands near the river ; farther back, the country is dry 
and sandy, like that of Ceara. Here, too, the drought was 
felt severely, and from the interior, thousands of refugees 
flocked to the river, encamping about the city as at Forta- 
leza. The rest of the story is told me with ghastly brevity 
by a Parahyba merchant. 

'* How many rettraiites came here ? " I ask. 

** About twenty thousand." 

" Did they emigrate ? I see none here now." 

** No, sir. Very few emigrated from this place." 

" Have they gone back to the sertao ? " 

" That is impossible ; the sertao is uninhabitable." 

" What became of them, then ? " 

"They died." 

Starvation and pestilence did their work well here. I 
know not how many are left of the twenty thousand ; some, 
let us suppose, have found work on the surrounding planta- 
tations, and some are in the city yet. But on all sides we 
hear the same story: ** They died." The scourge did not 
fall on Ceara alone. Eight provinces, at least, were stricken, 
and in every one there were famine-deaths."^ 

I fear that the periodical droughts of the sertao will long 
be a barrier to its colonization. Much might be done to 
lessen the evil, by proper systems of irrigation, by forming 
reservoirs and artificial lakes, or by sinking artesian wells. 
But all these works are expensive, and few Brazilians will 

*I have no data on which to base a calculation of the total mortality; but it 
is certain that many of these provinces suffered terribly. More than a fourth of 
the population of Brazil was affected by the drought, and the number of deaths 
can hardly have been less than three hundred thousand, outside of Ceara. 

438 BRAZIL. 

trouble themselves to guard against a possible evil as long as 
they can enjoy present prosperity. Even the terrible lesson 
they have received will be remembered only as a thing of the 
past, and not as a warning for the future. The next great 
drought may come a hundred years hence, when the popula- 
tion is twice or three times as great as it was in 1876. I 
dare not think of the possible result of such a calamity. It 
may be that men will be wiser before that time ; that the 
future historian may not have to write of pestilence brought 
on by culpable neglect — of thousands sacrificed to official in- 
action and official greed. 

South of Parahyba, the coast country is well watered ; 
secure even from the terrible seccas. The fertile land forms 
a strip, generally about thirty miles wide, and covered, where 
it has not been cleared, with heavy forest.* Pernambiico 
owes its prosperity to this forest-region, as well as to its po- 
sition, almost at the eastern extremity of South America, 
where Brazil is nearest to the great commercial centres of 
Europe. Unfortunately, the city has a very indifferent har- 
bor. The commercial portion of the town is fronted by a 
stone reef, within which schooners and barks of limited 
draught can pass ; but large ocean steamers have to anchor 
in the roadstead, two or three miles out. Here freight is 
transferred to lighters, and passengers scramble down the 
sides to dancing boats, at no small hazard of life and limb. 
However, we are spared this ordeal ; at high tide our little 
steamer passes behind the reef to the inner anchorage, 
whence we can reach the shore in two or three minutes. 

The reef looks much like an artificial breakwater ; from 
end to end, it forms almost a straight line, and the height is 

* Hence this region is often distinguished as mato, forest, and the peasants who 
inhabit it are called matntos. 



very uniform — about ten or twelve feet above high water. 
At the northern end there is a curious round tower or fort, 
dating back to the colonial times. Over the reef and against 
the tower the surf -^nshes wildly, sending showers of spray to 
the still water within ; when the swell is heavy there is a 
grand battle here, with great banners of white tossing against 

The Reef at Pernambuco. 

the sky. Within, the water is always smooth ; the narrow 
space is crowded with vessels, large and small, and the con- 
stant movement tells of commercial life and activity. 

Pernambuco is made up of two cities. The older portion 
occupies the end of a long, narrow peninsula, known as Re- 
cife, the Reef, though the reef proper, as we have seen, is 
farther out. Between the peninsula and the main-land there 
is a long creek or bay, the continuation of the harbor. The 
upper portion of this creek is shallow, but about the end of 

440 BRAZIL. 

the peninsula it is deep enough to float schooners and small 
barks, which receive and discharge their cargoes at the city 
wharves. Hence, the exporting and wholesale business is 
confined to the peninsula and to the opposite shores of the 
main-land, where the other portion of the city lies. Two or 
three bridges connect this division with the old town. 

Pernambuco commercial life centres about the water-front 
at Recife, directly opposite the stone reef. Here there is a 
little open space, which the merchants, with commendable 
good taste, have left unobstructed. Rows of trees form a 
shady promenade, and the benches about their roots are 
favorite lounging-places. The space is not much larger than 
a good-sized door-yard, but it gives an oddly rural feature to 
this part of the city ; a combination of repose and active 
business as different as possible from Para and Rio. Over 
all there is the dinginess that is common to most water-fronts, 
brightened here by the handsome building of the Commer- 
cial Association at one end of the common. 

The streets of Recife are very narrow and very crooked, 
with houses so high that they almost cut off the light. Many 
of these buildings are nearly as old as the city itself, dating 
back to the times of the Dutch occupancy in the seventeenth 
century. In the more ancient houses there are traces of 
Dutch or Flemish architecture, and this is still more evident 
in some of the older churches and monasteries, both in Re- 
cife and in the main city. A somewhat more modern cast 
marks the Portuguese reoccupancy, and from that time a 
series of changes can be traced, until the ancient forms are 
lost altogether and the modern Frenchified, no-architec- 
ture, takes their place. Of this latter, very little is seen in 

The city's story has left other marks on these old walls. 


Some of the houses have loop-holes, opening on the street ; 
some are pitted with bullet-marks, which tell of the hot street 
battles of 1845. Perhaps the political wars of these later 
times have left a deeper impress on the people themselves. 
Now, as then, they are jealous of the Central Government at 
Rio ; underlying their love of peace and order, and their 
steady patriotism, there is a constant feeling of discontent, 
only half-concealed. They complain, with much reason, that 
Rio draws all prosperity to herself; that the northern prov- 
inces are taxed to build railroads, public buildings, what not, 
for the southern provinces ; that the Government will not 
improve their harbor because it fears a too powerful rival 
for the metropolis. I do not think that this spirit will ever 
again break out in open rebellion, but it is doing its silent 
work. Pernambuco is the better for this lack of government 
coddling. Her merchants are more enterprising and quick- 
sighted, her people are more independent, and intelligent, 
and generous in all public works. Politically, the northern 
province may never be independent ; but it is achieving its 
social and commercial independence even now. Time will 
come when Pernambuco will attend to her own railroads and 
harbor- walls — and attend to them better and more wisely 
than the Central Government ever could. 

The principal bridge from Recife to the main-land is a 
modern and handsome one of iron ; passing from the narrow, 
old-fashioned streets, one is a little astonished to find such a 
structure, and still more surprised at the utter change from 
the old to the new city. Beyond the bridge, the streets are 
wide and straight, with horse-cars, and broad, well-paved 
sidewalks, and spruce modern houses on either side. Some 
of the public buildings are remarkably handsome, and they 
are so placed, about open spaces and on the water-front, that 

442 BRAZIL. 

they have a really imposing effect. Many of the streets and 
squares would do credit to any northern city. 

It is only justice to the Pernambucans to add that the 
good features of the city are not all on the outside. The 
market building is finer than any in New York, and the 
interior arrangement is admirable. The jail is a model of 
order and neatness, comparing most favorably with other 
provincial prisons. There is a small but well-selected city 
library ; the government engineers and surveyors have finely 
appointed offices, and they do much good work. So far as 
my own observation goes, the public service of Pernambuco 
is better than that of any other port of Brazil. There is less 
political squabbling here, less dishonesty and pilfering, far 
less mismanagement than at Rio and Para. 

A stranger can hardly fail to draw favorable comparisons 
between Pernambuco and the southern cities. The Govern- 
ment officers are courteous and ready to bear with the mis- 
takes of a foreigner. If we have occasion to enter a store, 
we are received with politeness ; prices are reasonable, and, 
in general, we need have little fear of being cheated. A 
passer-by will readily give us information about the streets, 
and even go out of the way to show us our road. In social 
life we find that frankness and hospitality that characterize all 
the northern provinces, widely separating their people from 
those of southern Brazil. 

There is a railroad from the city to the beautiful sea-side 
suburb of Oli7ida. This is an older town even than Recife ; 
in fact, it was the original metropolis, and it is still the ec- 
clesiastical capital, retaining the cathedral and bishop's resi- 
dence. There are quaint old houses of the Dutch times ; 
three or four ancient churches and monasteries are scattered 
about the green headland, from whence there is a fine view 


over the sea, and southward to the city. Along the beach 
there are modern hotels and cottages and pavilions ; the Per- 
nambucans often reside here for weeks together, to enjoy the 
fresh air and the fine sea-bathing. Every pleasant evening 
brings crowds of excursionists to Olinda. Ladies and gen- 
tlemen stroll about the beach, listening to very good music 
from the pavilions ; convivial parties sit at tables before the 
hotels ; there is much drinking of mild beer and strong coffee 
and brandy. Altogether, it is a smaller edition of Coney 
Island or Brighton. As for the bathing, that is almost con- 
fined to the early morning ; people take their daily plunge, 
as they would medicine, by the doctor's order, and the baths 
must never vary from prescribed numbers and times. 

We have glimpses of unceremonious country life, during 
our visits to the sugar-plantations back of the city. To reach 
these, we take the little Caxangd railroad to its terminus, 
eight or ten miles from the city ; there saddle-horses are 
hired, and we gallop off through an open, rolling country, 
with small plantations on either side, and thickets of tangled 
second growth, and strange barrigiido palms here and there.* 
An hour's ride brings us to the sugar-plantations ; some of 
them are in the rich bottom-lands, but the best are on hill- 
sides, generally planted in small patches, where the land is 
fitted for a strong growth. We are on a private road now, 
which leads through two or three estates, until we reach our 
destination ; a fine, large country-house, with the sugar-mill 
near by, and negro quarters beyond. 

The proprietor — a tall, wiry-looking man, very much like 
an American in appearance — greets us with bluff cordiality ; 
introductions over, he invites us into the mill-house, where 

* Attalea, sp. ? 

444 BRAZIL. 

we spend an hour in examining the complicated modern ma- 
chinery. Our host explains the different portions with a 
little pardonable pride in the establishment, one of the finest 
of its kind in Brazil. After that, he takes us away to the 
house, where we are duly presented to the ladies, and made 
to regale ourselves at a table, which might do for a New 
England Thanksgiving dinner. Then, no one will hear of 
our leaving to-night ; all our excuses are overruled, and, in- 
deed, we are not loath to improve our acquaintance with the 
family. The evening is passed, as it might be at an Ameri- 
can home, with music and conversation and draught-playing. 
The ladies — some of them are young, and very pretty too — 
are unrestrained, except by their own sense of what is right 
and womanly; in Pernambuco, ladies of the better classes 
are almost entirely emancipated from the stupid Portuguese 
customs ; if they do not have the freedom of American wo- 
men, it is because these better families form only a small 
percentage of the population; and the modern customs, how- 
ever they may be admired in private circles, are not yet ad- 
mitted in public. 

Our host has a good library of French and Portuguese 
works, and he is eager for information. In his younger days 
he travelled in Europe, studying at Coimbra and Paris. Re- 
turning to Pernambuco, he married and settled down hap- 
pily on his fine plantation. Most of the labor here is free. 
There are about fifteen negroes, but no servants could be 
better treated, and the master shares the almost universal 
Pernambucan spirit of hatred to slavery ; if he does not free 
his own people, he steadily refuses to buy more, although he 
would gain much, materially, by doing so. And this man 
is not alone ; he is one of a small, but rising and influen- 
tial class of planters, who are worth more to Brazil than all 


her theorizing statesmen and grand immigration schemes ; for 
they are showing her capabiHties, by raising the agricultur- 
ist to his true level. Such characters do not thrive in the 
southern provinces, where slavery degrades everything ; but 
there are some, even there. Here at Pernambuco, they have 
much in their favor — custom, institutions, public opinion ; 
above all, the absence of competition from overgrown plan- 
tations. So here they thrive, and are likely soon to be a 
power in the state. 

The older method of sugar-making, which is still followed 
on most of the Pernambuco plantations, is very crude. The 
cane-juice, first purified with lime, is boiled in large, open 
evaporators, or in successive iron kettles ; when it has at- 
tained the required consistency, it is allowed to cool, and is 
then ready for the dripping-jars. These jars are about thirty 
inches deep, and twelve inches in diameter at the top ; the 
bottom is rounded, so that the jar has something the shape 
of a Minie-rif^e bullet ; it terminates in a hole about three 
inches in diameter. This hole is closed with a plug of cane- 
refuse, and the jar is filled with about two hundred pounds 
of melada from the kettles. Frequently three hundred or 
more jars are set on frames in the sugar-house ; this house 
has a stone floor, inclined everywhere to a reservoir at the 
centre, where the drippings of molasses are collected. The 
jars are allowed to stand for twenty days, after which the 
plugs are removed, and the molasses which has collected at 
the bottom is drained away. The result is unclayed or 
muscovado sugar, a very inferior brown grade. If finer 
grades are required, the contents of the jar, after this first 
draining, are thoroughly stirred, and covered with cakes of 
wet clay ; water, in small quantities, is poured over the clay ; 
it percolates through the jar slowly, washing the sugar and 

446 BRAZIL. 

carrying away the molasses beneath. After two weeks, the 
sugar is removed in successive layers, those at the top being 
nearly white, while those beneath are successively of inferior 
quality to the bottom of the jar. The difference of quality 
may be seen in the market prices ; for example, in Decem- 
ber, 1878, the highest grades of clayed sugars were sold 
in Pernambuco for about 4,500 reis * per fifteen kilograms; 
while the lower grades brought no more than 1,600 reis.t 
The white upper layers are generally shipped to Rio and 
Lisbon, where they take the place of refined sugar ; the 
lower qualities go to the United States and England, and 
are improved by refining, as required. 

The modern process, employed by our host at the Sao 
Francisco plantation, is far more complicated. Steam en- 
gines are used here. Cane-juice from the ponderous iron 
cane-mills is pumped into a reservoir, where it is purified 
with lime and carefully strained. Thence it is passed to 
evaporating-pans and boiled for three hours, until it is re- 
duced to a pretty thick syrup. Now it is run into the 
vacuum-pans, and boiled, under a reduced pressure and at 
a low heat, for eight or ten hours longer. This process 
leaves the sugar well crystallized, but mixed with molas- 
ses. The sticky mass from the evaporating-pans is placed 
in centrifugal wheels, cylinders two feet in diameter, the 
sides of which are closely perforated with minute holes, like 
a strainer. The wheels are made to revolve at the rate 
of fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred times per minute; 
this rapid motion throws the sugar against the sides, and the 
molasses flies off through the holes. A jet of water, and 
subsequently one of steam, are turned into the wheel, and 

At par value. $2.25. t Eighty cents. 


the sugar is thus washed until it becomes perfectly white. 
Two or three minutes suffice for the whole process ; the 
sugar is taken out, dried in the sun, and pulverized in a 
small machine. The molasses from the wheels is reboiled, 
yielding a high grade of brown sugar ; the second molasses 
is sold to distillers, by whom it is made into rum. The fine 
white sugar produced at Sao Francisco is, in fact, of a refined 
grade ; sent to the United States or Europe, it is liable to 
the heavy duty imposed on refined sugars generally. Our 
refiners, of course, are anxious to have this duty retained, 
because without it the centrifugal sugar is likely to ruin their 
industry. The planters, on the other hand, favor duties 
founded on the actual amount of saccharine matter in the 
sugar, without reference to its color. This is, in fact, another 
phase of the endless dispute between ** protection " and 
**free trade ; " a dispute which will last as long as custom- 
houses do. It may mean very little to you or me, but to our 
host at Sao Francisco it is a question of paramount impor- 
tance. At present he can dispose of his refined sugar to city 
customers, but as other improved mills spring up, this local 
demand will be over-supplied, and the sugar will have to be 
sold at a reduced price. 

The commercial importance of Pernambuco depends 
largely on the sugar industry. All day you may see trains 
of horses coming down to Recife, each with two sacks of 
sugar slung from its back, a sticky mass. In the ware- 
houses, negro porters are employed to carry the sacks (each 
containing one hundred and sixty-six pounds) on their heads. 
They work naked to the waist, the perspiration and molasses 
mingling in little streams on their shoulders. Great mounds 
of sugar are formed in the storehouses, over which the por- 
ters climb, until a squeamish man is ready to abjure sugar 



for the rest of his life. It must be remembered, however, 
that most of this mass is cleansed and refined before it 
reaches the consumer. 

From Pernambuco to Bahia, the coast-line becomes more 
irregular and picturesque. After passing the mouth of the 
Sao Francisco, hills begin to appear ; the land is higher, and 

Bahia, from the Hill. 

there are little bays and head-lands, taking the place of the 
monotonous sand-beaches which extend from Maranhao to 

The harbor of Bahia is only inferior to that of Rio. It is 
very extensive, deep enough for the largest steamers, and 
the entrance is wide and unobstructed. On either side there 
are low hills, with green woods and meadows, and curious 
buildings and forts here and there. The city itself is on the 
eastern side of the bay, near the entrance ; the main business 


portion is built on the ground, by the water-side ; the rest 
of the town is on a bluff, three or four hundred feet above 
the bay. 

Of all Brazilian cities this is the most picturesque. In the 
lower town the streets are narrow, with antiquated buildings, 
dating back to the sixteenth century, and covered with the 
mould of years. Lazy negroes lounge at every corner ; fruit- 
women, with gayly-colored shawls over their shoulders, nod 
in the sun before their heaped-up trays ; queer little plodding 
donkeys and horses jostle each other at the turnings ; por- 
ters with sedan-chairs pass through the streets at a dog-trot; 
everywhere there is an atmosphere of antiquity and repose. 
The upper town is less ancient, but the preponderance of 
negro figures, and their odd costumes, seen to perfection 
here, give the place a character of its own. The upper and 
lower towns are connected by a ponderous steam-elevator, 
from the top of which there is a magnificent view over the 

Bahia exports large quantities of tobacco and sugar, with 
hides, cotton, a little coffee, and not a few diamonds. The 
city has monopolized the tobacco-trade of Brazil ; every- 
where, through the streets of the lower town, there are cigar 
manufactories, which send their products to all parts of the 
empire ; large quantities of cigars, also, are sent to Europe; 
and it is said that not a few find their way to the United 
States, where they are sold as "pure Havanas " or " Key 
West cigars." The Bahia tobacco is much inferior to that of 
Cuba. Many Brazilians buy imported cigars, and there is a 
steady trade in this product, between Rio and the West 

Bahia was the first capital of Brazil, and, until the coffee- 
trade sprang up, it shared the commercial supremacy with 



Rio. Even now, it is the second city of the empire, both in 
size and importance ; and with its fine harbor, it may yet 
regain what it has lost. But its people are far inferior to 
those of Pernambuco ; a large proportion of the population 
consists of negroes, slaves or free, and always ignorant and 
lazy ; the whites, too, are less frank and manly, more like 
their cousins of Rio and Sao Paulo. So I look for a stronger 
and more healthy growth in Pernambuco than in Bahia, not- 
withstanding the great natural advantages of the latter. 

From Bahia to Rio de Janeiro, the hills increase in height 
constantly, until they are merged into the rugged mountains 

Victoria Harbor. 

of the Coast-Range. Now there are strange peaks, and nee- 
dles, and rock-masses rising straight up from the sea, a grand 
panorama. We do not always run near the shore, for there 
are dangerous reefs in this region, and much caution is re- 
quired in passing them. The coasting steamers touch at 
three or four points ; the last station north of Rio is Victoria, 
a queer little rock-bound harbor, so narrow that our ship, 
swinging around with the tide, almost cuts it in two. 

So at length we steam down from Cape Frio to the sugar- 
loaf, and pass into the magnificent bay of Rio de Janeiro. 



THERE is nothing more difficult in authorship, than for 
a writer of one nation to judge fairly of the people of 
another. He must not measure them by his own experi- 
ence ; he may have been well or ill-treated, as he has en- 
countered good or bad individuals, or as circumstances have 
placed him in a favorable or unfavorable light with those 
whom he has met. He must not judge by customs; what is 
distasteful to him may be entirely right in the eyes of an- 
other man. Finally, he must not judge of a great nation by 
a single city or community, for people who speak the same 
language and obey the same laws may be entirely opposed 
in character. 

Heretofore, our wanderings have generally been in the 
backwoods of Brazil, where we met with simple-hearted 
country-people, whose goodness was rather negative than 
active. In Ceara and at Pernambuco we encountered a 
class of Brazilians who were above the average of their 
countrymen. In studying the people of Rio de Janeiro, 
we shall find a great many unpleasant traits of character, 
and some very good ones. Now, if I appear contradictory, 
let it be remembered that I am trying to view the Brazilian 
character from all sides ; to judge fairly by the whole, and 



not by particular or individual traits. Sometimes the moun- 
tains back of Rio de Janeiro are covered with clouds around 
their base, while single peaks above glow like diamonds in 
the sunshine. I could not judge of the mountains by the 
gilded peaks, nor yet by the dark clouds, for in either case 
I might be entirely wrong ; I must climb the peaks to see 
that they are formed of rocks, and not of sunshine alone ; I 

Tijuca, from the Bay. 

must go into the mist, though it be dark and drizzling there, 
to find the beauties that underlie it. 

The metaphor is good for nothing of a bright morning, 
when one crosses the bay from Sao Domingos and sees the 
•city lying there in the sunshine. For Rio is a picturesque 
place ; it must be so from its surroundings ; even the odd 
jumble of ancient and modern buildings seems to have a cer- 
tain fitness under the other odd jumble of crooked moun- 
tains. Within the city limits, there are lesser hills and rocks ; 
some of them have convents or churches on them, and irreg- 



ular clusters of houses. Back on the mountain-sides, the 
streets cHmb as far as they can, and end nowhere. 

The Httle ferry-boat lands us in our city of metaphorical 
fog and actual sunshine ; sunshine a trifle too warm, even at 

this early hour; but _^ ^ ^^^^ 

you must expect all 
sorts of weather at 
Rio. So we put up 
our umbrellas, and 
walk over to the 
Riia Prinieiro de 

There is nothing 
essentially tropical 
about this part of ^B| 
the city, unless it ^a' 
be the tile-roofs, and 
the hintings of early ^M 
Portuguese - Brazil- 
ian architecture. 
That square edifice, 
on our left, is the 
department of Agri- 
culture and Public 
Works ; it is one oi the few Government buildings that show 
something like artistic taste. Brazilian architecture, just 
now, is in a transition state, characterized by nothing but 
tawdriness, and a poor attempt to imitate the French. I 

* Formerly the Rua Direita. The Government has shown its taste by aboUshing 
the old and well-established names, and substituting new ones, founded on national 
history, and supposed to fill the soul with patriotic emotions ; as if we should call 
Broadway " Fourth of July street," or the Bowery " Avenue of the Battle of Bunker 
Hill." But the people rebel, and stick to the old names. 

Rua Primeiro de Marco. 

454 BRAZIL. 

like better the old buildings, which are plain enough, but 
have a character of their own. 

On the street-corners, there are gayly-painted and deco- 
rated, pagoda-like buildings — kiosqiies, they are called here. 
Groups of laborers are gathered about them ; they buy their 
coffee and lunch at the kiosques, and discuss the probabili- 
ties of lottery tickets that are exhibited in the windows ; in- 
vest their savings in the tickets very often. These lotteries 
are a curse to all classes in Brazil. 

The Rua Primeiro de Mar^o is wide and pleasant ; there 
are two or three churches, of uncertain architecture;* farther 
on, the new Post-office, much more showy but far less artis- 
tic than the Agricultural Building. For the rest, there are 
rows of warehouses and offices, buildings three or four stories 
high, and very plainly finished. This street is, perhaps, the 
most bustling and business-like of any in Rio ; yet nobody 
appears to be in a hurry, unless it be some newly-landed- 
foreigner. Only a few carts and carriages are seen ; negro 
porters carry burdens on their heads. There are street-rail- 
roads, t?he cars drawn by mules ; frequently we see platform- 
cars, loaded with bags of coffee or grain. 

This is one of the principal wholesale streets. Farther 
back from the bay are the retail shops ; the best of them on 
the fashionable Rua do OiLvidoVy which would be unfashion- 
able enough in New York, for it is a mere narrow alley, like 
most of those in this part of the city. However, the shop- 
windows are very tastily arranged ; Brazilians understand 
this art thoroughly. There are coffee-rooms, opening to the 
street, and two or three picture galleries with execrable 

* Those shown in the foreground of the picture, are the Imperial Chapel, com- 
menced by the Benedictine Brothers in 1761, but only completed during the early 
part of the present century ; and the Igreja do Carmo, built from 1755 to 1770, 


paintings. On the whole, the Ouvidor is hvely and pleas- 
ant ; of an evening it is brilliant, and the broadcloth-coated 
gentry come out in their glory. During carnival time, and 
periods of public rejoicing, the arches of gas-jets overhead 
are all lighted, and the street is crowded for half the night; 
people saunter indifferently on the sidewalks or in the road- 

Turning off from the Ouvidor, we can stroll through the 
northern part of the city, where the docks and great ware- 
houses lie. The streets are narrow, for the most part, and 
not over-clean. Here, during the sickly season, the yellow 
fever gathers in its victims by scores. It begins, generally, 
with the boatmen ; one often hears of deaths in December 
and January ; in March and April, when the weather is warm 
and oppressive, the disease is at its height, and has spread 
over the whole city. Foreigners, from northern countries, 
are especially liable to its attacks ; almost every year some 
prominent American or Englishman is carried off. From 
June or July until January, one need not fear the yellow 
fever in Brazil, unless it be, rarely, in Para. In truth, if 
sanitary regulations were properly enforced, the disease 
would never appear here at all. Rio, by its situation in 
a rocky basin, is most subject to it ; but the real cause is 
the slovenly condition of the streets, and the imperfect sew- 
erage. There have been schemes enough for cleaning and 
draining the city, but they have either ended in vapor, or, 
being mixed up with political jobbery, have been only half 
carried out. 

Yet our narrow and dirty streets are not without their 
picturesque side. The older buildings are here ; some of 
them date back two centuries, and exhibit. In perfection, 
the peculiarities of the earlier colonial times. Our American 



historic houses were mostly of wood, and have disappeared 
long ago, or only exist in a half-ruined state. The Portu- 
o-uese colonists built solidly of stone and cement, in the man- 
ner of the mother country ; and after two hundred years the 
walls and tile-roofs are as good as ever ; only the whitewash 
has been softened down with black mould, until every tower 
and cornice is a delight to the eye. A wonderful beautifier 
is this mould, and wonderfully well it has done its work 

The Sugar-loaf, from the West. 

here ; that old convent on the hill is a picture like an artist's 
dream. Strangely in contrast are the modern dresses, and 
the horse-cars that pass through nearly every street. The 
low trucks and half-naked negro cofifee-carriers are more in 
keeping with these mouldy walls, albeit the buildings speak 
rather of repose than of active commercial life. We see a 
most modern-looking coffee-packing estabHshment, on the 
ground floor of what might have been a viceroy's palace, or 
a colonial prison. It is like the meeting of two centuries. 


Farther on, there are the Pedro Segundo docks, where 
all except very heavy draught ships can take in cargo di- 
rectly from the wharf. These docks, lately finished, have 
become exceedingly popular with shippers. They are hand- 
somely ornamented, perhaps with a tendency to extrava- 
gance, as with all public works in Brazil. 

Beyond, the waters of the bay ripple and dance in the 
sunshine. What a glorious harbor it is ! It has been pic- 
tured and praised ever since it was discovered, and it will be, 
while ships and commerce last. Its acknowledged rivals, 
San Francisco and Constantinople, can never boast of greater 
natural advantages than these ; a clear approach, an unob- 
structed entrance, wide enough, but not too wide, and fifty 
square miles of anchorage ground within ; more, for light 
draught vessels. Not a tenth part of the space is used now, 
and ships have room enough and to spare. 

I have been with matter-of-fact men, phlegmatic ones, 
who grew enthusiastic when they passed the sentinel Sugar- 
loaf rock, and saw this splendid bay for the first time. It is 
not alone the mountains ; those are strange and grand, rather 
than beautiful ; but the rocky points, the picturesque side- 
bays, the green hills and islands, the by-places and glens. 
Away, beyond the city, the blue water stretches almost to 
the base of the Organ mountains — land of purple romance, 
where the jagged rocks are all mellowed and dissolved in the 
soft haze, and you see nothing but the outlines, with the 
finger-like Dedo de Deos at one end of the range. Some of 
these peaks are six thousand feet high. 

Rocks on either side ; not insignificant matters either. 
There is the conical Sugar-loaf at the entrance of the bay 
— a mass twelve hundred feet high. Beyond the city is a 
huge cluster, with the Corcovado and Tijiica rising above it ; 

45^ BRAZIL. 

farther back, the Gavea and Tres Irnidos ; across the bay, 
other clusters, not so high, but everywhere with abrupt hills 
and precipices of the purple-brown gneiss. Even the water 
is not free from these peaks ; there are rocky islands here 
and there, and some of them are crowned with buildings 

The Organ Mountains. 

forts, naval storehouses, convents. The old monks must 
have chosen these sites for picturesque effect. 

There is no end to the beauties of this bay. You go sail- 
ing along the shores, and every headland and nook is a de- 
light, with nodding palms and flowering shrubs. Then there 
is the shipping : how artist Turner would have delighted in 
it ! Ships are picturesque everywhere, but in Rio harbor 
they are supremely so. I know not if it be the limpid water, 
or the background of hazy mountains, or an indescribable 
something in the air ; but there are no other ships like these ; 
not even on the Hudson, where the sloops and schooners are 
all enchanted. There are monitors — expensive toys of the 
Brazilian Government, which does not need them at all — and 
gunboats, and war-steamers ; English ships, French, Portu- 
guese, German ; rarely, one that carries the American flag, 



though many belong to American merchants, and are com- 
manded by American masters. 

To return to the city. Rio is a great, spravvHng, shape- 
less place ; the main business part is pretty compact, but 
beyond, there are spider-like prolongations along the shores 
on either side, and back among the picturesque valleys to 
the very feet of Corcovado and Tijuca. Perhaps the prettiest 
of these suburbs is Botafogo. It is built along the shores of 

up the Bay. 

one of those picturesque side-bays that open into the har- 
bor of Rio ; a placid stretch of clear water, with rocky head- 
lands here and there, and a broad sand-beach, and the 
Sugar-loaf rock in the background. Some years ago, an en- 
terprising American conceived the idea of uniting this place 
to the Ouvidor, by a street-railroad. At that time, people 
who could not afford a carriage of their own, must ride in 
dirty, crowded omnibuses, or go on foot, as the most of them 
did. The Yankee idea was received with favor and opposi- 
tion, in about equal measure ; however, it was carried out, 
and now the Botafogo line is probably the finest of its kind 
in the world ; the stock three or four hundred per cent. 

46o BRAZIL. 

above par, and not to be had at that.* Since this one was 
built, street-railroads have risen in favor ; many other lines 
are in operation, but none so successful as the first. 

In Botafogo, nearly all the houses are of the better class ; 
srome of them not without beauty, though the architecture is 
sufficiently confusing. But the glory of the place is its crown 
of gardens : stately, tropical gardens, with avenues of royal 
palms, and gorgeous flowering shrubs, and dark-tinted trees, 
like hedges for denseness. As you look at them, you get, 
somehow, an odd idea that all the leaves have been var- 
nished ; yet the impression takes nothing from their beauty. 
A dark-haired, splendid, tropical belle is Botafogo, reclining 
there under the Corcovado, and gazing at herself in the quiet 
waters of the bay. 

But it matters little to our purpose what the oft-described 
houses and gardens are ; we must know something of the 
people who live in them. 

Not unpleasant people to visit with, you may be sure ; 
only you must have the entree, for Rio society is very exclu- 
sive. Most foreigners never see the inner life of Rio at all. 
or what they do see, in glimpses, is too good or too bad for 
a correct index ; so Brazilians get praised or get blamed, 
without any great justice in either case. 

Here, as everywhere else, it takes all sorts of people to 
make up a community. Only, in Brazil, the proportion of 
really good families, refined, educated ones, is very much 
smaller than in the United States : too small, as yet, to 
exercise much influence over the country. When you meet 

* The road was economically built, and it is carried on with true Yankee acu- 
men. For instance, the car-mules are young animals, brought in from the country 
and broken to work by the company itself; after a few months, they are sold at a 
profit, for carriage-mules. 


with these families you find a social life differing very little 
from that to which we are accustomed at home ; pure man- 
ners, intelligent conversation, and a hearty respect for every 
true lady. The ladies themselves are quick-witted, lively, 
brilliant ; one of them would flash all over a northern draw- 
ing-room, to the utter extinction of dull conversation. 

But the mass of Rio society is much lower ; it is a bad 
imitation of the Parisian. I think, indeed, that there is a 
deal of unconscious truth in the boastful title which the peo- 
ple have given to their city — ** Paris in America." French 
fashions, French literature, P'rench philosophy, French mor- 
als, are spread broadcast through the educated circles ; only 
you must remember, that all this is modified by strong class 
distinctions, which the French have got rid of, and by the 
influence of old, bigoted Portuguese ideas. 

Ladies go about with their husbands and fathers, and are 
always treated with politeness ; they are witty and lively, but 
often superficial. The time is past when women were shut 
up like nuns, behind latticed windows, invisible to the street; 
when they were only shown at balls and on state occasions. 
But true social freedom is hardly more accorded to them 
than it was a hundred years ago. If the custom of betroth- 
ing children has gone by, it is still true that a woman has 
very little choice in her own disposal. The majority of girls, 
I suppose, accede blindly to their fathers' wishes, taking the 
husbands that are offered to them, as a matter of course ; and 
glad of any change to relieve the monotony of their life. 
There may be a previous understanding between the young 
people, but society does not recognize that; until she is 
married, a woman's fate rests with her father or guardian ; 
the mother has very little to say about it. 

The same surveillance is seen in every-day life. A girl, 

462 BRAZIL. 

if she goes out at all, walks the street with a black servant at 
her heels ; ladies sometimes venture on shopping excursions, 
but, for the most part, they buy from samples that are sent 
to them, or from one of the numerous tribe of street-peddlers. 
You may see these latter at any time, passing from house to 
house, with their glass boxes of small goods on their backs, 
or in a cart; sometimes, if they are well-to-do, they have a 
negro to carry their box for them. They do a very thriving 

Altogether, social life at Rio is in a most chaotic condi- 
tion, and it is not likely to mend greatly at present. What 
can we expect where marriage is looked upon as a matter of 
convenience only, and woman is a grown-up child, a creature 
to be guarded and restrained ? I have no patience with 
them, these absurd rules that have come down from the dark 
ages, and rooted themselves in a civilized community, to turn 
it black like themselves ! No man, in his heart, will be faith- 
ful to an inferior ; no woman restrained, but will sigh for 
freedom. Go your way, my fine gentleman ; lock your doll 
in her parlor ; and return to find a woman with the woman- 
hood driven out of her ; a creature stealthy, subtle, quick to 
betray you as you have betrayed her. You say that she 
needs education, to fit her for liberty. She needs liberty, to 
fit her for education ; and she needs a true heart to make 
them both avail her. 

I wish I could speak better of the place, but I know of no 
other city where vice is so brazen-faced, so repulsively prom- 
inent, as at Rio. You must not judge the whole by what 
you see ; there are many good men, even here ; there is pure 
society, with happy home circles in it ; there are men and 
women who come together as God meant they should, and 
respect each other, and go on to the white-haired ending, 


hand in hand, with comfort and cheer. Nor must you judge 
other BraziHan cities by Rio, for this is a centre of wicked- 
ness, as all capital cities are ; Pernambuco, for instance, is 
immensely better. In truth, almost any other place in Brazil 
will compare favorably with the metropolis in private morals. 

But family life at Rio has another, and a brighter side. 
It is what one sees with all the Latin nations ; the affection 
that is wanting between man and wife is lavished by both 
upon the children ; and then, when the boys and girls are 
grown, the debt is repaid tenfold with dutiful care and loving 
attention. We, too, have a lesson to learn; we, who so often 
let our fathers and mothers go down to a sterile, loveless old 
age, living with us by sufferance, shoved away with other 
household rubbish when they may be. I can almost forgive 
a Brazilian for his social mud, when I see his pride and joy 
over the white-haired father. Careful, loving arms guide the 
old man to his seat in the evening sunshine ; quick, youthful 
feet are ready for his every want ; and then the younger 
children come in for his blessing, and kiss his hand ; stran- 
gers are brought to pay their respects to him, as he sits there 
in his halo of patriarchal glory. 

So far, we have been considering only that portion of the 
population which would be distinguished as the ''society" 
of Rio ; people who, by birth, or education, or wealth, are 
able to retain a certain standing, which separates them from 
the mass of their countrymen. Classes are strongly marked 
in Brazil. Below this "society" stratum, we may distinguish 
three others, pretty sharply defined : the mechanics and 
small shop-keepers, the laborers and peasants, and the slaves. 

In the United States we have nothing precisely parallel to 
the second Brazilian class ; perhaps our poorer Jews are the 
best comparison, but they are hardly an integral part of the 



nation. In Brazil, the importance of the second class is very 
much underrated, simply because official statistics do not 
recognize it, as a class, at all. In it we may include ped- 
lers, shop-keepers in the smallest way, low eating-house 
keepers, and finally, every mechanic who does any honest 
work ; for mind you, in Brazil a mechanic is no more ad- 
mitted into society 
than a boot-black 
would be at home. 
These men are 
mostly Portuguese 
immigrants ; some- 
times white or half- 
breed Brazilians. 
They work hard to 
keep themselves 
above the common 
laborers, whom they 
look down on ; they 
never aspire to the 
magnificence of the 
privileged class, the 
educated ones, who 
look down on them, 
or rather ignore 
them, except as they must make use of their services. With 
this lower stratum, education never extends beyond writing 
and accounts, but even that is enough to secure the respect 
of sails culottes, who, very often, cannot even read. Then 
there is the added dignity of proprietorship ; the owner of 
a street-corner pagoda, who sells coffee and lottery tickets 
at his windows, is a superior being to the porter or boatman, 

Porters waiting for Work. 


or even to the cartman, who may get his morning lunch 

Rather a negative element is the stratum next below this 
— the free laborers. In this class I may include, not only the 
porters and cartmen and marketmen of Rio and the other 
cities, but all the peasantry of Brazil, whether the matuto of 
Pernambuco, or the Arab-like sertanejo vagabond of Ceara, 
or the Indian of the Amazons ; stationary people, who work 
only when they must, and never accumulate property. This 
negative class must exist in every country ; only individuals 
can climb out of it, and make men of themselves. 

In Rio, this class includes Portuguese and free negroes ; 
the latter, probably, the more intelligent and honest. There 
are boatmen and cartmen, porters waiting for a job at every 
street-corner, hawkers of fish and fruit and poultry ; thousands 
who have no regular employment, but pick up their living by 
doing "odd jobs." Our boot-blacks, and news-boys, and 
street- Arabs generally, might belong to this class ; the " ' long- 
shoremen " are a grade above it. Certainly, the Rio vaga- 
bonds are lower, both in intelligence and morals, than the 
Amazonian Indians ; and for cleanliness, the Indian is infi- 
nitely superior. 

So we come to the fourth and lowest classes in Brazil — 
the slaves. The class that originated in barbarism and self- 
ishness — the class which Brazil, for very shame, is trying to 
get rid rid of, but whose influence will curse the children 
with the sins of their fathers for dreary years. I tell you, be 
they inspiration or revelation, or only bare philosophy, those 
words of Sinai are true with God's truth and justice ; you 
cannot undo a wrong that is done ; it must work itself out to 
the bitter ending, and you or yours, or blameless people on 
the other side of the world, will have to pay for your compact 

466 BRAZIL. 

with Sin. We are paying ourselves for this hideous crime of 
slavery, as we paid for it during four years of hideous war ; 
body and soul, we are all of us paying other people's debts. If 
there is no clearing-house fiat ahead of us — there ought to be. 

I came to Brazil, with an honest desire to study this, 
question of slav^ery in a spirit of fairness, without running to 
emotional extremes. Now, after four years, I am convinced 
that all other evils with which the country is cursed, taken 
together, will not compare with this one ; I could almost say 
that all other evils have arisen from it, or been strengthened 
by it. And yet, I cannot unduly blame men who have in- 
herited the curse, and had no part in the making of it. I can 
honor masters who treat their slaves kindly, albeit they are 
owners of stolen property. 

In mere animal matters, of food and clothing, no doubt 
many of the negroes are better off than they were in Africa ; 
no doubt, also, they have learned some lessons of peace and 
civility ; even a groping outline of Christianity. But it would 
be hard to prove that the plantation slave, dependent, like a 
child, on his master, and utterly unused to thinking for him- 
self, is better, mentally, than the savage who has his facul- 
ties sharpened by continual battling with the savage nature 
around him. Slavery is weakening to the brain ; the slave 
is worse material for civilization than the savage is, and worse 
still with every generation of slavery. 

That is not the main evil, however. The harm that 
slavery has done to the black race is as nothing to the evils it 
has heaped upon the white one, the masters. If every slave 
and free negro could be carried away to Africa, if every drop 
of cursed mixed blood could be divided, the evils would be 
there yet, and go down to the children's children with a 
blight upon humanity. 


Indolence and pride and sensuality and selfishness, these 
are the outgrowths of slavery that have enslaved the slave- 
makers and their children. Do you imagine that they are all 
rich men's sons, these daintily-clad, delicate young men on 
the Ouvidor ? The most of them are poor, but they will 
lead their vegetable lives, God knows how, parasites on their 
friends, or on the government, or on the tailor and grocer, be- 
cause they will not soil their hands with tools. " Laborers ! '* 
cries Brazil. '' We must have labor ! " and where will she 
get honest workmen, if honest work is a degradation ? 
Slavery has made it so. For generations the upper classes 
had no work to do, and they came to look upon it as the 
part of an inferior race. So they have kept their hands 
folded, and the muscle has gone from their bones, and indo- 
lence has become a part of their nature. Still, they will be 
sham lords, if they cannot be real ones ; so their money — 
what they have of it — goes for broadcloth coats and silk hats, 
and sensuality ; a grade below that, they are yet shabby-gen- 
teel figures, with an eye to friendly invitations to dinner ; 
and below that, they sink out of sight altogether, from mere 

The rich men's sons are not parasites ; sharp enough, 
many of them are, to keep the money they have, and 
double it. But from their cradle, the curse of slavery is on 
them. The black nurse is an inferior, and the child knows 
it, and tyrannizes over her as only a child can. The mother 
is an inferior, by her social station, and she does not often 
venture to thwart the child. The father, with whom authority 
rests, shirks it back on the irresponsible ones, who may not 
venture to lay sacrilegious hands on the heir of power. The 
amount of it is, that a child' s training here consists in letting 
it have its own way as much as possible ; and the small 

468 BRAZIL. 

naughtinesses and prides develop into consuming \'anity 
and haughtiness. It is characteristic of the Brazilians, this 
vanity ; it may come out in snobbism, or over-confidence, 
or merely a fiery sensitiveness ; but there it is plainly, in the 
best of them. Slavery is to blame for it; black slavery, and 
woman slavery that gives the mother no authority. 

Of the sensuality that comes from slavery, the mixed 
races that overrun Brazil are a sufficient witness, as they 
are in our Southern States. But in Brazil, the proportion 
of these mixed races is vastly greater ; I am safe in saying 
that not a third of the population is pure-blooded ; social 
distinctions of color are never very finely drawn, though 
they are by no means abolished, as some writers would 
have us believe. 

People who talk of " amalgamation," as a blessing to 
be hoped for, should study its effects here, where it is al- 
most an accomplished fact. The mixed races are invaria- 
bly bad ; they seem to combine all the worst characteristics 
of the two parent stocks, with none of the good ones ; and 
the evil is most apparent where the " amalgamation " is most 
complete. A light mulatto, or an almost black one, may be 
a very decent kind of a fellow ; but the brown half-and-half 
is nearly always lazy and stupid and vain. So with the 
whites and Indians, or the Indians and blacks ; the inatne- 
lucos are treacherous, and passionate, and indolent ; the 
mestizos are worse yet ; but a dash of mixed blood may 
not spoil the man that has it. 

The treatment of slaves in Brazil depends, of course, on 
the master ; largely, too, on the district. In the provinces 
north of the Sao Francisco, I am bound to say that they are 
treated with great kindness ; on the Amazons, they would 
be, from necessity, if not from choice, for every ill-used 



slave would run off to the woods, as many have done, 
out of mere laziness ; freedom, considered abstract!}', is not 
likely to have much influence on the negro mind. But 
around Rio and Bahia, where the vast majority of the 
slaves are now owned, there are masters who treat their 
servants with a severity that is nothing short of barbarism. 
We shall see something of this, when we come to study the 

Yet Brazil should have a certain credit above other slave- 
holding countries, present and past ; for she alone has volun- 
tarily set herself to getting rid of her shame. Other nations 

Plantation Slaves. 

have done it by revolutions, or because they were forced to 
by a stronger power, or because the system died out of it- 
self. But Brazil, among all, has had nerve to cut away the 
sore flesh with her own hand ; to cut it away while it was yet 
strong, while it seemed her best vitality. Would to God 
that she could cut away the scar as well ! But the scar will 
be there, long after emancipation has done its work. 

By the present law, slavery will cease to exist in 1892 ; 
essentially, I think, the northern provinces will free their 
slaves before that time. At Pernambuco, especially, the 

470 BRAZIL. 

emancipation-Spirit is very strong ; it has come out in the 
form of an aboh'tion society, which embraces nearly every 
prominent man in the place ; many slaves have been freed 
by subscription, at the meetings of this society ; there, and 
elsewhere, the masters frequently celebrate days of public 
rejoicing, by releasing some old servant. Sometimes a rich 
man frees his entire household, by testament. 

The slaves have been drained into the southern prov- 
inces for years. It is common to find three or four hundred 
of them on the Rio cofifee-plantations ; rarely, there will 
be as many score on the sugar-estates of Pernambuco or 
Para. Now mark the result. At Rio there is a constant cry 
for workmen ; the slaves are not sufficient, yet free laborers 
cannot compete with the forced ones ; the planters work their 
negroes as they would never work their mules, yet complain 
that they reap no profits. In the northern provinces, there 
is fi-ee labor, enough and to spare ; poor men have a chance 
in the v/orld ; rich ones are content with the fair returns that 
their money brings them ; society is far more evenly bal- 
anced, and the level of private character is far higher than in 
the south. Of course, there are humane masters at Rio also ; 
the city, in this instance, is better than the country around. 
Many of the negro porters are slaves ; great, brawny fellows, 
who run in gangs through the streets, each one with a hun- 
dred and thirty pounds of coffee on his head. Sometimes 
Ave see five or six of them, trotting together, with a piano; 
the weight evenly distributed on the woolly craniums ; the 
men erect, moving in time to the leader's rattle, and to 
a plaintive chant. The porters pay their masters a cer- 
tain sum per day ; what they earn over this, is their own. 
The best of them sometimes buy their freedom from their 


Above the four classes which constitute the nation, we 
•might place a fifth — the aristocracy. But Brazilian titles, 
except for the imperial family, are not hereditary, and the 
nobility grades insensibly into the society class. 

Walking on the Ouvidor, of a pleasant morning, we some- 
times get a glimpse of royalty, in its only South American 
representative. Men stand at the street-corners, and shop- 
keepers look out at their doors. With a rattle of wheels and 
a clatter of hoofs, a carriage sweeps by, followed by a score 
-of mounted guards. We see bright trappings, and sleek 
liveries, and, in the midst of all, a handsome, white-bearded 
gentleman, seated bare-headed in the carriage. Except on 
fete-days, or at palace receptions, that is all that the Rio 
■crowd, or you and I, see of Dom Pedro d'Alcantara, Consti- 
tutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. 

Americans have formed their own opinions of the Brazil- 
ian emperor; correct opinions, in the main, for he is at home, 
what he was in the United States : a thorough gentleman, 
not at all assuming, but with just enough of pride and re- 
serve to give him dignity in his office ; a quiet, scholarly man, 
who can converse well on almost any subject, from music 
to palaeontology. He visits schools and hospitals about the 
city ; occasionally, makes a flying trip to the provinces, 
where he is received with expensive outbursts of public re- 
joicing, and is feted and eulogized and bored, as royal per- 
sonages are, the world over. The emperor does not multi- 
ply these visits ; he is content to shine nearer home. Above 
all, he likes to take part in the proceedings of scientific 
societies and art-clubs ; with his encyclopedic knowledge, he 
can enter into a debate at a moment's notice. 

But he is not a Napoleon, this emperor; he is simply a 
well-meaning, well-informed nobleman, who has the good of 

472 BRAZIL. 

his country at heart, but is not always strong enough to force 
the benefits he would gladly give. He could study our 
school system, and charm every one by his intelligent ques- 
tions ; but we cannot see that the Brazilian schools are 
greatly the gainers. He could study yellow fever and its 
preventives at New Orleans, but there are the dirty, ill-smell- 
ing, badly-drained streets, the same pestilence-breeders that 
they were a year ago. 

From his position, I think, the emperor cannot always 
see the real faults and needs of Brazil, he sees only the best 
side of things, just as you see the best side of a prison or an 
asylum that you may inspect ; go there as an inmate, and 
you may tell another story. His Majesty may visit one of 
the public institutions on a set day ; his faithful subjects set 
the carpenters and whitewashers at work on the building, 
and the tailors prepare broadcloth coats for the occasion ; 
His Majesty's faithful institution is ready for His Majesty's 
inspection ; and majesty is bowed to, and shown around, and 
humbugged into a very majestic idea of a very mean little 
affair. That is the misfortune of hereditary royalty ; to see 
everything in its Sunday clothes. There is another misfor- 
tune. The people look at things from their own point of 
view, and blame royalty where they should pity it. So 
royalty and the people are forever falling out, because they 
cannot understand each other. 

However, his German and Latin ancestors have be- 
queathed to Dom Pedro a large fund of good-nature and 
common-sense ; adaptability, is the better word. His father 
had nothing of this adaptability ; so got into trouble with 
his congress, and was forced to abdicate. Perhaps the Bra- 
zilians took a lesson from those stormy times ; at any rate, 
the present emperor has held his position, peaceably in the 


main, for thirty-eight years.* There are those who murmur 
for a republic (they do not know that a repubhcan govern- 
ment is precisely the most difficult to carry on) ; but the 
people in general are content to let their patriotism evap- 
orate in minor politics ; they have a reasonably good mon- 
arch, and they prefer him to the chances of an actively bad 
one. There are not wanting those who predict a revolution, 
to come when the present emperor dies. I think that will 
depend much on the time of his death ; whether it be in a 
period of political peace, or after a day of storm. 

In general, the emperor's influence is felt only through 
his ministers, of which there are seven ; the Ministro dos Ne- 
gocios do Iinpcrio, whom we may call prime minister, is es- 
sentially the ruler of Brazil, while he can keep his position. 
Unfortunately, the emperor cannot always choose the best 
men for his cabinet. So affairs are ministerially mism.anaged, 
until a crisis arrives, and a new set of mismanagers come into 

For the rest, there is a congress, very much like ours, 
except that the senators are chosen for life, and the depu- 
ties (answering to our representatives) for four years ; the 
emperor has a voice in the selection of the former, and the 
Imperial princes are members of the senate by right. The 
provinces answer to our states in theory, except that the 
presidents are nominated at Rio, instead of by the province 
itself, as with our governors. Practically, the province is 
completely under control of the General Government. 

The Brazilian constitution is well enough, and the laws 
are well enough — models of clearness and justice. But we 
are beginning to learn, in these latter days, that constitutions 

* When his father abdicated, in 1831, the second Pedro was a child; until his 
majority, in 1840, the country was governed by a regency. 

474 BRAZIL. 

do not always determine the fate of a country. We lay 
down this strong foundation, and on it we build gold, silver, 
precious stones, wood, hay, stubble — a sad lot of rubbish the 
constitution must support sometimes ; one gets to wishing 
that it were a less solid foundation, that haply it might give 
way under its load, and leave clear ground for building anew. 
Brazil is sadly over-governed — that is one difficulty. There 
are twice as many officials as are required, and the whole 
government system is bound together with tangles of red 
tape, gibbet-ropes for justice and commerce. Most of the 
higher posts are filled by gentlemen, and they are ready 
enough to do a service if you approach them in the right 
way. The petty officials are often stupid and tyrannical ; they 
delight to show their power over their victims, but they 
cringe before their superiors like dogs. The result is, that 
everybody seeks the higher influence, and justice goes very 
much " by favor." Hence, there is corruption and misman- 

There is corruption, also, in politics, even more than in 
the United States. Matters are worse here, because Brazil- 
ians are blind partisans, and intensely hot-headed ones ; a 
difference of political creed is enough to separate friends, 
or even members of the same family. Yet it would be 
hard to show the distinctive beliefs of the two great polit- 
ical parties. "Conservative" and "Liberal" preach very 
much the same doctrines ; only they fight for different men. 
The amount of vituperation used in these quarrels is some- 
thing amazing. A political newspaper is an organ to abuse 
the opposing party, and this abuse, vile enough to ruin any 
respectable American paper, is heaped on with the least pos- 
sible regard to truth ; a man is bad, because he belongs to 
the other party ; a law is bad, because he initiated it ; and so 


on. Oh ! it is a black mass, this sink of Brazihan poHtics ; 
there are ballot-box stuffings, and false countings, and mean 
trickery without end ; our own contests are as nothing to 
these for wickedness. 

I do not believe that Brazil could successfully carry on a 
republican government ; she lacks the first element of safety 
for a republic — the fusion of classes. Our North American 
civilization is not stratified, any more than the ocean is ; if 
men stay at the bottom, it is by their own gravity, and not 
by birth or station. The stratified condition never did hold 
in the United States ; but South America imported it from 
Spain and Portugal, and has clung to it ever since, as blindly 
as if it were an element of human progress. 

Brazil does not recognize the mechanic-pedler class, as a 
factor in her civilization ; but who shall say that it may not 
come to the surface, after all, and astonish the world with a 
miracle of human progress. The like has happened before : 
witness the French revolution, or the more quiet social revo- 
lution that is going on now in England. Unrecognized ele- 
ments are forever baffling political foresight. 

Perhaps it is what South America needs : a revolution. 
Not a horizontal one : surface whirlpool of political strife, 
that would only serve to engulf some hapless hundreds or 
thousands ; the world is surfeited with such movements. A 
good, honest, vertical revolution it should be ; one to bring 
stronger elements to the top, and destroy forever the old, 
diseased ones. I like not to see a million or two of men 
seated on top of ten times their number of plebeians, and 
yelling "Freedom!" to a believing world. Stratified free* 
dom ! The French understood themselves better ; to their 
^' liberte'^ they pinned another idea, '* cgalitc ;'' it has cost 
them torrents of blood — but compare France and Spain now ! 



Ah, well ! I hope that, when the revolution does come, 
it may come peaceably, and end in the amalgamation, not 
the wiping out, of the upper class ; a class which, with all its 
faults and mistakes, has yet many good and noble men in 
it. Remember that Brazilians are expiating the sins of their 
fathers, as well as their own. Society here was wrongly con- 
stituted in the outset ; it is not the fault, but the misfortune, 

of the educated 
class, that they are 
separated from the 
rest of the nation. 

I do not mean to 
say that the mechan- 
ics and shopkeepers 
are better, as a class, 
than the merchants 
and gentlemen ; they 
are ignorant, and 
dirty, and degraded ; 
that is obvious 
enough to any stran- 
ger. But their work 
gives them brawn, 
11 and their poverty 
protects them, in a 
measure, from immorality ; physically, they are the superiors 
of the upper class ; mentally, they might be, if they had a 

So Rio social life goes on, with its mingling of good and 
ill ; the ill sadly near the surface, it must be said ; the good, 
more than we know of, maybe, often hidden from sight. 
The mixture is tempered by impulsive, sociable manners, 

In the Passeio Publico. 


and quick wits, and ready tongues ; and then there is the 
frosting of P'rench pohteness over all. I can lounge in the 
cafes, and interest myself in the lively conversation about 
me ; my neighbor lights his cigarette with mine, and touches 
his hat, and is quite ready to answer questions. Of an even- 
ing, I can saunter through the Passeio Publico garden, listen- 
ing to the music, and watching the students strolling about 
the gravel walks and exhibiting themselves, after the manner 
of students elsewhere. It is a pretty place, this garden ; 
the people are proud of it, and indeed, it would be an orna- 
ment to any city, with its stately palms and noble old trees. 
There is a marble-paved promenade fronting the bay ; of 
a fine evening you will find hundreds of idlers here, from 
the pleasure-loving city : people neatly and quietly dressed, 
after the French fashion, conversing in low tones and po- 
litely making way for each other as they pass. 

There are parties and balls, ceremonious dinners, and 
quiet tea-drinkings ; even church fairs, oddly like the ortho- 
dox ones at home, but, of course, with all the glitter and 
pomp of the Catholic Church. Theatres are open almost 
every evening ; the actors are generally indifTerent or bad, 
but sometimes, when Lisbon sends over one of her stars, a 
real treat can be enjoyed. The Portuguese have very de- 
cided histrionic talent. I have seen a '* Marie Antoinette" 
here that melted the house to tears ; though, for that matter, 
the men would have gone crazy the next day over some 
French ballet divinity. Occasionally, one of the great musi- 
cians varies his European or American triumphs by a trip to 
Rio ; then he is feted and poetized, and crowned with meta- 
phorical laurels ; the newspapers are full of him ; the air is 
redolent of him ; the susceptible people cannot see enough 
of their idol. There is much musical taste among the 



Brazilians, but with a vast deal of plaiio-strumming vul- 

There are some admirable public institutions at Rio ; 
hospitals, asylums, a polytechnic college, academies, and so 
on. Some of the city parks are very pretty, and away be- 
yond Botafogo there is the Botanic Garden, with its splendid 

avenue of royal 
palms, a hundred 
feet high ; you will 
remember the fine 
engraving of this 
avenue, in Mrs. 
Agassiz's book. Be- 
sides the palm- 
avenue, there are 
shady walks, and 
groves of tropical 
trees, and green 
lawns, such as you 
rarely find at home. 
Of a fine afternoon, 
the garden is full of 
pleasure-seekers ; it 
is easy of access, 
since the Botafogo 
railroad company 
extended its line to this place, seven miles from the Ouvidor. 
People come out to enjoy the ride in the open cars, as well 
as to visit the garden ; I doubt if any other street-railroad 
in the world passes by such a succession of lovely scenes. 

In the city there is a museum of natural history, rather 
showy than good; the collections are badly labelled, and 



badly arranged. But for another institution I have only 
praise : the National Library, with one hundred and twenty 
thousand printed volumes, and a vast store of valuable manu- 
scripts ; such a library as any city in the United States would 
be proud of. It is open to the public, day and evening, and 
the reading-room is almost always occupied by students or 
general knowledge-seekers. 

The Director — a kindly, scholarly gentleman, you may be 
sure — takes pains to show us many of the old Jesuit manu- 
scripts ; the library has numbers of these, relics of the ex- 
tinct monasteries and mission-houses. So we bury ourselves 
in them, and get to dreaming of those strange, hard-working, 
self-sacrificing fanatics — the most wonderful human machines, 
probably, that the world ever saw, and the most unselfish 
Christian heroes. What a deal of romance there is in early 
Brazilian history ! 

But away from the dusty, yellow manuscripts, away from 
leaden air and stifling heat and political mud, I love best to 
climb to the hills and woods. What endless charity there is 
in Nature ! One comes from the city with a sore heart, and 
an idea that the world is all going wrong, but here is the 
sunshine lying on rocks and trees ; delicate ferns and mosses 
clinging to the sides of beetling mountains, getting their liv- 
ing, Ave know not how, but getting it bravely and happily ; 
there comes back the old, childish instinct of faith, which our 
ponderous philosophies cannot utterly destroy ; the faith in 
world-government and world-destiny ; the faith that looks for 
brighter things to come out of these dark ones. 

This is only a cluster of mountains, set off from the loftier 
ranges beyond ; none of them are very high. The Corco- 
vado and the Gavea rise two thousand five hundred feet 
above the sea ; the Tres Irmaos are lower ; and the highest 



of all, Tijuca, is nearly three thousand five hundred feet from 
the water. But their strange, abrupt forms, towering against 
the sky, make them wonderfully impressive ; the Tres Irmaos, 
or the Gavea, will bear comparison with many mountains of 
three times their height. 

All through the cluster there are picturesque roads and 
by-paths. One magnificent, broad highway leads up to the 
village of Tijuca, five or six miles from the city — a charm- 

The Gavea. 

ing retreat, among the cliffs and woods. There are fine 
houses and grounds there, and hotels, largely patronized by 
foreigners, and a waterfall, with a reputation for grandeur 
which is a libel on its quiet beauty. People come to live 
in Tijuca during the sickly season ; the place is always 
cooler and healthier than the city. 

Beyond Tijuca, we can follow a winding mountain-road, 
that leads down to the other side of the cluster, by the sea- 
shore ; here we are at the foot of the Gavea, a great, square- 
cut mass, inaccessible except to the hardiest climbers. The 


white surf comes up gallantly almost to its base, and sets off 
the dark rocks, like jet in ivory. I think this is the finest 
rock-mass I ever saw. 

Then there is the moss-grown, seventy-year-old aqueduct 
that brings water to the city from the Corcovado. For two 
or three miles, where this aqueduct runs along the mountain- 
side, the government has built a carriage-road ; a shady, 
quiet road, with glimpses of the bay and the city below. 
The aqueduct road is a favorite strolling-place ; of a Sunday, 
especially, you may see family groups here, enjoying the 
woods and the fresh air. Here, too, the numerous tribe of 
Rio naturalists come to hunt for beetles and butterflies, ferns 
and orchids, in the second-growth woods. 

Farther up the mountain-side the woods are thicker, 
though still second-growth ; the ground is carpeted with 
ferns ; the rocks are covered with them ; in the ravines 
there are wonderful tree-ferns, twenty feet high or more, 
vying with the stately palms, and broad-leaved philoden- 
drons. Nature loves to decorate these mountain-woods, 
even after her proudest glories have been shorn away. 

It is a hard climb to the top of the Corcovado, but it is 
worth the pains. The peak itself is a mere point, or rather 
two points, with a bridge between them, and low parapet 
walls ; for if one were to fall off from these rocks, he would 
go sheer down, fifteen hundred feet or more, to the forest- 
covered slope below. The Corcovado peak is accessible 
only from the south ; on the other three sides there are 
bare, perpendicular precipices. 

Down below, the city and bay are seen on one side ; on 

the other, the Botanic Garden, with the picturesque Rodrigo 

de Freitas lake before it ; in front, the suburb of Botafogo, 

and the Sugar-loaf rock towering above the mouth of the 




harbor ; beyond all, the blue ocean, fading into immensity, 
the horizon so distant that it is lost in haze. Often the 
clouds gather around this peak, and through the rifts you 
get telescopic glimpses of houses and rocks below. Again, 
the clouds have covered everything, you are floating in gray 
space ; nothing visible above, around, below ; only this rock 

without a founda- 
tion, and the wet 
mist beating in your 

Once only I had 
a sight here, the 
like of which I may 
never meet with 
again. The clouds 
were floating, per- 
haps a hundred 
yards below, and on 
them the afternoon 
sun painted a com- 
plete and most vivid 
rainbow ; a circle, 
like a halo, with the 
shadow of the moun- 
tain-top in the cen- 

Botafogo and the Corcovado. trC. It laSted OUly 

for a moment, but it was worth the chmb, and the voyage 
of five thousand miles. 

Here, from the hills, I look down on the city below, and 
my thoughts are healthier, as the air is purer about me. I 
have faith in the future of Brazil, because I have faith in 
human hearts and human progress. I remember that there 


is a leaven of good even in the wicked city. I remember 
that goodness and truth and reason are always strong ; say 
what you will, they are getting the better of evil the world 
over, and they will get the better of it here. I reflect on 
the generous impulses that Brazilians have shown, their 
kindness to strangers, which I should be the last to for- 
get, their religious tolerance, their brave sacrifices to get 
rid of slavery. And now I believe that there is a stronger 
national life, underlying these clouds and bright spots. Look 
over to Sao Domingos ! We stood there in the morning, 
and saw this rock, like a glistening diamond over the mist ; 
but the mist did not hold it up ; rock must be founded on 
rock. And I tell you that the good men and good deeds 
in Brazil betoken good in the Brazilian character ; good that 
will increase as the world grows older. It is a law of nature, 
of human progress ; a law that shall stand when these moun- 
tains have been melted away, and lost in the sea. 



THE two extremes of Rio commercial life are repre- 
sented by the Rua Primeiro de Marco and the mar- 
ket. These two are adjacent. 

Rua Primeiro de Marco is the bankin^j and commission- 
house centre. It runs parallel to the water-front. The road- 
way is broad and well paved ; the buildings, for the most 
part, dingy and respectable ; the counting-rooms rather dark. 
It might be a down-town street in New York, but for the 
lack of noise and bustle. On the whole, it is as untropical 
as possible. 

We get the impression of a quiet but thriving business. 
In the counting-houses we see clerks writing at long desks ; 
money-brokers pass foreign gold and silver over their ta- 
bles, in exchange for Brazilian notes. The banks are never 
thronged ; a few people come and go, noiselessly ; the bank- 
ers take their own time, and the waiting depositors do not 
fret and fume. 

The commission and importing business, on this and the 
neighboring streets, is largely carried on by English and Ger- 
man firms, but there are some Brazilian, and a few French 
and American houses. These large firms are the main prop 
of Brazilian commerce ; almost every shopkeeper in the 



country is, more or less directly, dependent on them. There 
are houses here that have been in existence since the begin- 
ning of the century. 

The market is twenty rods off, by the water-side. It is a 
great, square building, with as little architectural taste as 
markets generally have. On the land side, there is a small 
square, where the fruit-women congregate in force, and make 
the air hideous with their jabbering. Large docks, or ba- 
sins, are walled in 
from the bay ; here 
the market-boatmen 
unload their car- 
goes of fish and 
vegetables. There 
are two or three 
other markets in 
the city, but most 
of the fishing-boats 
come here ; in the 
morning the basins 
are crowded with 
them — as odd a 
jumble as we will 
find about Rio. 
The fish are in 
astonishing variety ; we can find a hundred or more on 
almost any day ; some of them are remarkable for their 
strange forms or bright colors. There are loads of crabs, 
shrimps, and lobsters — favorite dainties with the Brazilians ; 
oysters there are, too, but uncivilized ones, very lean and 
stringy ; at Rio, the oyster falls from his solid, aldermanic, 
Chesapeake-bay condition ; consequently, he is unpopular 


486 BRAZIL. 

and generally neglected. The fishermen crowd and jam 
each other, in their efforts to reach the shore, but they are 
good-natured enough. We miss the Indian faces of the 
Para market ; most of these boatmen are mulattoes, or black- 
bearded Portuguese. Their boats are broad, heavy affairs ; 
a few only have round -bottomed, narrow dugouts, as dif- 
ferent as possible from the Amazonian canoes ; the paddle is 
long and lance-shaped, and is used on the two sides alter- 
nately; the canoes themselves are very crank. 

The main building, and the smaller one behind it, are 
partitioned off into passage-ways and stalls, much as in the 
Fulton and Washington markets. Besides these, there is a 
court, with stalls on either side and stands in the middle. 
Here are fruit-dealers, turbaned negresses, seated under 
huge, white umbrellas ; poultry-sellers, with their great, 
arched baskets of doomed chickens and ducks, poking out 
stupid heads and remonstrating after their fashion ; trays of 
fish and flesh and vegetables ; bunches of greens, mixed 
with sunny oranges and pineapples in glorious array ; a com- 
bined odor of fruitiness and fishiness, with wafts of fifty other 
things, not always pleasant ; a mingling of noises like a horde 
of school-boys at play, with that negro click-click sounding 
over all ; a confusion of figures, that ever change and never 
cease to be picturesque ; that is what we see in the Rio mar- 
ket of a fine morning. But you do not see it in my descrip- 
tion, and you never will see it in print ; these tropical mar- 
kets are as indescribable as a tropical forest. 

The more practical side is disappointing ; the market is 
not very well ordered, and everything is abominably dear. 
This is excusable in marine produce, for the fisheries are not 
very rich, however great the variety may be. But it is hard 
to understand why oranges and pineapples should cost three 


times as much as in New York, or why onions and sweet 
potatoes should be very much higher than they are at home. 
Time was, when the demand at Rio was well filled, from 
market-gardens around the head of the bay ; then fruit and 
vegetables were very cheap. But what with the seductions 
of coffee-raising, and the speculative period that followed 
the Paraguayan war, these gardens have been abandoned ; 
at present the city must look for its supplies to distant vil- 
lages and plantations. 

In front of the main building, the produce is sold as it 
comes in from the country ; and here the peculiar volubility 
of the marketmen is most apparent. The result of all this 
confusion is, that the fruit and vegetables are sold at last. 
Only a small portion of the produce goes to the market it- 
self; the most is taken by street-hawkers, of which there is 
a small army here. 

The hawkers are about the only men in Rio who appear 
to be in a hurry. Through the city, we hear their quaint, 
endlessly varied cries at all hours, startling us at times by 
their oddity ; every peddler exhausts his ingenuity, invent- 
ing some torture of language and sound, wherewith he may 
announce his wares. They pass through the streets at a 
dog-trot, never stopping unless some one calls them, from a 
house, with that peculiar ^^ pstschf' the one unwritable word 
of the Portuguese language. Queer, not unpicturesque fig- 
ures, some of them are. Here, for instance, is a fish-ped- 
dler, with two shallow baskets slung from a pole across his 
shoulders ; or an old negro fruit-seller, balancing his great 
tray of pineapples and oranges on his head, and giving vent 
to a hideous whoop at intervals ; or a poultry-man, with a 
score or so of fowls in baskets, or tied together by their legs, 
and strung from his neck. 




The streets would not be Rio streets, if the peddlers were 
taken out of them. Besides the market-men, there are the 
itinerant cloth-merchants, rapping their jointed yard-sticks, 
and the ubiquitous candy-boys and newsboys, and the cake- 
women, mirrors of African ugliness. If the cook has a pot 

_ or a pan to 

^^^ A, r'^P^'f'^^^-T^i ^I^^^^~M' ' S^=^ mend, she 
' Cl^^^ '^'i'fk^""" A. ^^"''■-. waits for the 

ker ; she will 
know of his 
passing by 
the tink-tink 
that he 
makes, beat- 
ing with an 
iron rod on 
one of the 
pans which 
he carries. 
All these 
thrive, be- 
cause the 
B raz i li a n 
women are 
averse to 

shopping in the city ; it is only recently that they have done 
so at all. The peddlers are still an important element in re- 
tail trade. 

As for the shops, we can observe them to advantage on 
the fashionable Rua do Ouvidor. We find, in the first place. 



that none of them are very large, for a place of three hun- 
dred and fifty thousand inhabitants ; but what with the Ouvi- 
dor, and the streets about it, the munber of retail houses is 
sufficiently surprising ; you wonder how so many can live. 
For instance, there are some twenty book-stores in the city ; 
yet the Brazilians, as a whole, cannot be called a reading 
people. So it is with almost every other branch ; retail 
business is 

overdone, '>-' ^ ^^sr-^ ^ iiw^k a — 

and there is 
little chance 
for compe- 

The shops 
are well ar- 
ranged to 
attract the 
eye ; on the 
Ouvidor, es- 
p e ciall y , 
some of the 

windows are really artistic, and there is no lack of plate-glass 
and showy signs. For the rest, the windows might be in 
Paris or New York ; only, two or three of them are bright 
with feather flowers and pinned butterflies, not an unimpor- 
tant branch of commerce here. 

So much for the outside : now, if we have occasion to 
buy anything on the Ouvidor, we shall find, as in the mar- 
ket, that prices are high, and, with most wares, the quality 
is none of the best. I fear, too, that the average Rio shop- 
keeper does not concern himself greatly with abstruse ques- 
tions of moral responsibility ; so a stranger may expect to 


490 BRAZIL, 

pay in proportion to his greenness. At Pernambuco 
and Para, as we have seen, the tradesmen are much bet- 

When we come to consider the cause of these high prices, 
we remember that there are few manufactories in Brazil, 
and these do not fill one-tenth of the demand for sfoods ; so 
there is an immense import trade, and everything must pay 
roundly in the custom house. Ergo, these duties, as well as 
the freight, must be added to the price of goods ; that is 
plain enough. But there is another reason, not so conspicu- 
ous, but not less important, and it is well that our American 
manufacturers should understand it. 

You must know that business in Brazil is tormented by a 
demon known as ''long credit." For instance, A., a retail 
merchant, buys a thousand dollars' worth of goods of B., im- 
porter ; A. gives his note for eighteen months ; longer, some- 
times. Now B. must make allowances for the possibility of 
A.'s failure ; so he must increase the price of his goods. If 

A. pays interest, he, in turn, must allow for that, and in- 
crease again the price of the goods ; if there is no interest, 

B. must sell still higher, so as to remunerate himself for his 
money lying idle so long. Now if you or I buy a cigar, or a 
spool of thread, we must pay all these added charges. In 
other words, we pay for money that lies idle during eighteen 
or twenty-four months, as the case may be. 

Latterly, the workings of the long-credit system have 
been still further complicated by an unstable paper currency. 
We will suppose, for example, that B., an American, sold his 
thousand dollars' worth of goods in 1877, and received, in 
return, a note for two thousand and fifty milreis, the current 
exchange, payable in January, 1879. But in 1879 the note is 
worth only nineteen hundred and fifteen milreis ; or, if it was 


made on a coin basis, the giver must pay twenty-two hun- 
dred and fifty milreis.* 

Some of the Rio merchants have made efforts to do away 
with this nefarious system, but with no success, simply be- 
cause it is so deeply rooted ; half the retail houses in Rio 
would be ruined if they were obliged to take short credit, or 
buy for cash. 

In Brazil, the credit system runs through everything ; it 
cripples agriculture as well as commerce ; it extends even to 
the forests and rivers. We have seen how, on the Ama- 
zons, every Indian is in debt to some trader, who, in turn, 
owes all that he has to the Para merchants. So, in the cen- 
tral provinces, the sugar and coffee plantations are often 
loaded down with debts ; so, around Rio, many coffee-growl- 
ers are hopelessly entangled. Yet the rotten fabric holds 
together, somehow ; failures, though common, are not nearly 
as numerous as might be expected. Generous nature gives 
material so freely, that each year sees the building patched 
up and freshly painted, to all appearance as good as new. 

Will it always stand ? Not unless a stronger and better 
material be introduced ; not unless whole beams and rafters 
be torn out to make room for new ones. Not unless the 
foundation be strengthened by a more economical govern- 
ment, and a better financial system. Whether that time will 
come, or whether the building will hold together until it does 
come, I cannot say. 

What then ? Must manufacturers turn their attention 
away from Brazil ? 

Not at all. But they must take care not to entangle them- 
selves ; they must know whom they trust ; in two words, 

* Practically the notes are generally discounted at a bank ; but the result is the 
same ; or rather, our spool of thread or cigar pays the bankers' profits also. 

492 BRAZIL. 

they must be cautious. And just here I may venture to say 
a word to our manufacturers about this much-talked-of Bra- 
zilian trade. I am not personally interested in the matter, 
but I have tried to keep my eyes open during a four-years' 
residence in Brazil ; and I find that my ideas coincide pretty 
nearly with those of prominent merchants, American and 
Brazilian, with whom I have conversed. 

Ever since the centennial year, our newspapers have 
been full of glowing articles on the South American em- 
pire, and the immense commercial field that is open to us 
there. Long columns of statistics have shown us that our 
importations from Brazil reach forty-five million dollars, 
though our exports to that country are only seven million 
dollars ; while England sends forty-five million dollars' worth 
to Brazil, and takes only a small share of her products. Why, 
it is asked, do we not pay for Brazilian goods with American 
goods ; and the writer clinches his argument by showing that 
we can manufacture many articles cheaper than Europe can. 
** Behold," cry these gentlemen, '* a country where Ameri- 
cans can make money ; a commercial paradise ! " 

As soon as these newspaper articles appeared, a crowd of 
young adventurers rushed to Brazil, with samples of Ameri- 
can goods, wherewith their fortunes were to be made. But 
by and by they came trooping back again with long faces ; 
after two years, we cannot see that our exports to Brazil 
have increased in any very surprising degree ; and yet the 
figures were all right, and the argument was most convincing. 

I think we may set it down as a commercial axiom, that 
people will buy where they can buy cheapest, all otJier things 
being equal. So, if American goods can be delivered in 
Rio, or the Feejee Islands, cheaper than English and Ger- 
man goods, and placed in the market U7ider equal advan- 


tages, there can be no earthly doubt that the Rio or Feejee 
merchants will buy of us rather than of our European neigh- 

But now let us simplify the subject by a simile. Suppose 
that Jones has a country store in the village of Farmertown ; 
he is an old resident of the place, and has long sold his cali- 
coes at ten cents per yard. There appears one Mr. Moses, 
with a hooked nose. He opens a new store, and says to all 
the town : '* Here ish calicoes for nine cents a yard ; come 
and buy of me ! " But the old farmers are steady and care- 
ful ; they look at Mr. Moses, observe his hooked nose, and 
drive on with their wives to buy of Jones, whom they can 
trust. Mr. Moses need not be discouraged ; if his cloths are 
really good, they will find their way in the favor of his rural 
customers ; but he must not expect to have large sales at 

Suppose, again, that our friend Moses has only certain 
patterns or colors of calico; very pretty they may be, but 
not fitted to the Farmertown tastes and fashions. Jones has 
always consulted those tastes, and his new stock, just in from 
New York, is selected in strict accordance to it. Mr. Moses' 
cloth may be just as good, but I fear he will sell it slowly, 
though his honesty may never be doubted ; he must fit his 
stock to his customers. 

Suppose, finally, that Mr. Moses is just in from Germany 
or Palestine ; can speak nothing but Hebrew. He may put 
Hebrew placards in his windows, offering his calicoes at half 
price, but never a customer will he get, unless it be a chance 
member of his tribe who passes that way. 

Now apply the example to our foreign trade. Jenkins, 
representing several American manufacturers, arrives at Rio, 
or the Feejee Islands, with samples of goods. He brings 



letters, of course, to prominent American merchants, who 
have seen fifty men fail, and know, in advance, that Jenkins 
will fail also ; consequently, receive him politely, as they are 
sure that he will not injure their business. 

Jenkins visits the house of Pereira & Carvalho, or Mission- 
ary-Eater & Broth- 
ers, and exhibits his 
samples of goods. 
These gentlemen are 
old customers of 
Brown & Co., En- 
glish merchants; 
and though it is true 
that Jenkins can un- 
dersell the said 
house, yet, at pres- 
ent, our native firm 
prefers to continue 
with these estab- 
lished friends. Per- 
haps they are some- 
what involved with 
Brown & Co., and 
could not change if 
they would. They will be glad to see Mr. J. at some future 

Or again, Jenkins has goods which might do for the West 
Indian trade, but were clearly never intended for Brazil or 
the Pacific Islands ; consequently, they are not wanted at 
any price. 

Finally, Jenkins is probably on his first voyage. Portu- 
guese and Feejee are alike unknown tongues to him ; all his 

A narrow Street. 


eloquence is lost on people who cannot understand him, and 
his goods remain unsold. Jenkins canvasses vainly, and be- 
comes discouraged ; his board-bill is running up (he is cer- 
tain to have taken rooms in the most stylish hotel), and 
worse than all, he finds that there are established Ameri- 
can merchants who can sell as cheaply as he can ; so, after 
a month or two, he packs up his trunks and goes home, light 
in pocket, heavy in heart. Jenkins says that Brazil and the 
Feejee Islands are humbugs, and he thirsts for the blood of 
all newspaper correspondents. 

If American manufacturers wish to push their wares in 
Brazil, they will do well to take a lesson from the English 
houses. They will never build up a business in a few weeks ; 
certainly, they will never do it by employing young agents, 
who leave home with the avowed intention of returning with- 
in a few months at most. Many of our manufacturers have 
never exported goods before ; they have yet to learn how 
they shall accommodate their wares to the wants of other 
countries. As Rome was not built in a day, so we must 
not expect that our foreign trade is to spring at once 
into exuberant growth. If we are to gain a footing in 
Brazil, we must do precisely as our German and Eng- 
lish neighbors have done : establish regular agencies and 
branch houses ; study the wants of the country, and adapt 
our goods to them ; finally, avoid all rash speculations, and 
bubble schemes. Even then we shall have many difficul- 
ties to contend with, which we can only vanquish with time. 

Take the two items of cotton goods and cutlery : both of 
these can now be made cheaper and better in the United 
States than anywhere else in the world ; unless the current 
of trade changes, we will eventually rule the markets of Bra- 
zil, and other countries, in these manufactures. In Brazil 

49^ BRAZIL. 

they have a start, and are slowly pushing their way in the 
public favor. 

English manufacturers employ resident commission mer- 
chants at Rio, or very often, they have branch houses. 
Young boys are sent out from London to be educated to 
the foreign business ; they enter these established houses as 
clerks, readily learn the language, and become accustomed 
to the details of Brazilian trade before they take more re- 
sponsible positions. Eventually, the boys often become 
partners in the house ; they may take charge of the Rio 
branch, or they may return to England with a thorough 
knowledge of the necessities of Brazilian trade, so that 
they can adapt their business and manufactures to it. 

At present, it is not probable that our manufacturers will 
venture to establish branch houses in Brazil, though it would 
be precisely the wisest course ; only, the profits would be 
little or nothing for the first year or two, until the firm was 
well established. Such branch houses have the advantage 
that they save the commission on goods, and, being directly 
responsible, they can be trusted, even for large orders. Be- 
sides, they can make their own prices, suited to the market, 
and they can have stock on hand for immediate delivery, 
when required. I believe that such a house, established, let 
us say, by one of our cotton manufacturers, would be almost 
certain to make its way. 

But if this cannot be done, at least employ regularly es- 
tablished commission merchants, giving them the most lib- 
eral terms, and even a certain latitude as to prices. Or, if 
young men are sent to Brazil, let it be with the intention 
of keeping them there, on salary ; they must have time to 
study the language, and to study the Brazilian trade as well. 
Be content to lose at first, that you may gain afterwards. 



Adapt your goods to the Brazilian market, and for that, 
take the judgment of men old in the trade. For instance, 
the Brazilian merchants require a particular width and length 
in cloths ; you can make these as well as the English and 
French, and will have to do it, if you wish to compete with 

We are often warned of the opposition which we must 

Water-carts in the Largo de Canoca. 

look for, from English merchants in Brazil. With branch 
houses, representing manufacturers, this is, no doubt, true ; 
but for the rest, you may be sure that an Englishman is just 
as ready to buy of you as of one of his countrymen, if he 
sees a clear profit in the operation. 

You must remember that many of the English houses 
sell what is known as "surplus stock." A manufactory in 
England, after filling all its orders for a year, may still have 

49^ BRAZIL. 

time to spare ; rather than discharge their hands and stop 
their mills, the owners ship goods to Rio or elsewhere, selling 
them at cost or a trifle over. They would not do that in 
England, because it would ruin their own trade ; they can 
afford to do it here, because the effect of these low prices 
will not come back on them. 

There is another, very grave matter, to which I wqsh to 
call the especial attention of our manufacturers. If we enter 
a Brazilian store, we may see, for instance, American Collins' 
axes for sale at twelve dollars per dozen ; also, axes with the 
same mark, and similar appearance, for eight dollars and 
fifty cents per dozen. Now, if a Brazilian customer enters, 
he takes the cheaper article, for most Brazilians have yet to 
learn the economy of buying high-priced goods. You may 
suppose that Collins gains as much, in the long run, because 
the inferior article will be sooner worn out, and the customer 
will want more. Not a bit of it, though. The cheap axes 
never came from America at all ; Collins makes only first- 
class articles, and if he saw one of these miserable imitations 
he would disown it at once. 

The imitation goods are almost exclusively German ; and 
whatever German merchants may be elsewhere, in Brazil 
they have a reputation for the most untiring industry, and 
the most elastic of consciences. Once or twice a year, every 
Brazilian city is regularly canvassed for false labels, princi- 
pally for American hardware and cutlery ; but also for other 
articles — American, French, and English. The evil is a 
double one : first-class goods are driven out of the market, 
and honest manufacturers get an evil reputation, which they 
by no means deserve. 

The Brazilian retail merchant buy these imitation goods, 
with a perfect knowledge of their worthlessness, because he 


can sell them to his own advantage. I am glad to say that a 
recent treaty between the United States and Brazil places 
these falsifiers within the grasp of the law ; but even if the 
law is enforced, there will yet be many false goods to com- 
pete with ours. I see no way but for our manufacturers to 
place on the Brazilian market an inferior grade of goods, 
marked as such, but which will yet be better than the worth- 
less German things that are sold at the same price. That 
would drive the imitations out, and preserve our reputation 
as well. 

I have heard the complaint, over and over again : "Amer- 
ican articles are too good for the Brazilian market." An 
Amazonian trader, for example, buys English prints, because 
he can get them for seven cents per yard ; it matters little to 
him that the goods are half starch ; they are glossy, and 
pretty to look at, and he can sell them to advantage to his 
Indian and mulatto customers. Why should he pay nine 
cents for American prints, though he knows that they are 
far stronger and better. But there are grades of American 
prints that can be delivered in Para for seven cents per yard, 
or even six cents, all duties paid. Fill them with starch, 
smooth them out, and they would sell as well as the English 
ones, so that the patterns were well chosen. They would 
pass for what they are— inferior grades ; and if Brazil de- 
mands these inferior grades, there is no reason why we 
should insist on selling her higher ones. Only let us have 
no false pretences. 

One point remains to be considered : Why cannot 
Americans establish manufactories in Brazil, and thus save 
themselves the heavy duties that are levied on imported 
goods ? In some few instances they might do so with 
profit, but in general, the goods made in South America 

500 BRAZIL. 

cannot compete with foreign ones ; the cost of building and 
carrying on a factory, of any kind, would be very great in 
Brazil, both from the import duties on material, and the lack 
of skilled labor. Foreign manufacturers are content wdth 
small profits, because their sales are large and rapid ; and 
they could almost always undersell a Brazilian manufacturer, 
whose operations must, necessarily, be small and slow. 

There are a few cotton factories in the country, all of 
them, I think, depending for their support on government 
aid. Iron foundries have been established in most of the 
coast cities, but only for irregular work, repairing, and the 
like. I knew of one American founder, who came to Brazil 
with the avowed intention of starting a manufactory for tools 
and agricultural implements ; but after a careful study of the 
field, he concluded that the cost of working, necessarily with 
imported materials, would make the enterprise simply a ruin- 
ous one. 

Paper-making might pay well, especially if some of the 
native fibres could be utilized in this way.* Glass-making, 
also, is worthy of consideration ; so, possibly, are type- 
founding, copper-founding, furniture-making, and so on. 
Small manufactories of soaps and candles, and various oils, 
have done very well. But for ordinary mechanics, I can 
give only one kind of advice ; that is, keep away from Brazil, 
unless you are paid to go there, or have money enough to 
keep you idle for a year or two ; even then, think long 
before you leave the United States. It is not that skilled 
labor is not needed here ; it is, sadly ; but a vast number of 
clumsy workmen drive it out of the market. A mechanic 

* Cotton rags could be obtained, I think, as they are in the United States, by 
means of small traders ; they are all wasted, at present. 



could establish himself, only after long and patient working 
and waiting. He would have to master the language, learn 
the peculiar service required of him ; and, after all, his 
family would be deprived of society ; he himself would be 
looked down upon as one of an inferior class, by men who 
were beneath him morally and intellectually ; finally, living 
expenses (at least in Rio de Janeiro) are very high, and pay- 

The Sugar-loaf, from the South. 

ment for his work would not be very secure. In nine cases 
out of ten, a poor mechanic will make more money in the 
United States than in Brazil. 

I know that I shall be criticised for these views ; I know 
that they are widely opposed to the glowing accounts of 
various newspaper correspondents. But, writing always as a 
friend of Brazil, as an admirer of her splendid natural re- 
sources, I must yet write the truth. And the truth I have 

502 BRAZIL. 

seen on many a sad, weary face ; I have heard it from men 
who came to the Southern Empire full of eager expecta- 
tions ; who have found themselves, too late, strangers in a 
strange land, penniless, without work, ignorant of the lan- 
guage — worst of all, perhaps, with wife and children looking 
to them for support. The writers of these glowing para- 
graphs have never seen this side of the picture ; their holiday 
trip showed them only the bright surface of Rio life, its gay 
society, its pleasant parks and gardens , the heavier truth 
was underneath. 

American capital and labor have a chance here ; Amer- 
ican labor alone can do nothing at all in the southern prov- 
inces,"^' and little enough in the northern ones. 

Finally, no one should start in any Brazilian business, 
without a careful study of the ground, — not from books, but 
from personal observation. Over and over again, I have 
wondered at the folly of men who invest their whole capital 
in some Brazilian enterprise, when they know no more about 
Brazil than they do about Sirius. I knew of one, for exam- 
ple, who left a good business in the United States, and went 
to a Brazilian city with a large stock of goods ; but they 
were selected for American customers, and were useless in a 
foreign mart. Of course, he lost heavily in his venture. 
With a six months' study of the ground, he might have 
done very well. 

Once a month, we can see the United States flag flying 
over the finest steamers that enter the port of Rio de Janeiro. 
I am not acquainted with Mr. John Roach, but I heartily 
admire the plucky spirit he showed, in building three such 
magnificent ships for the Brazilian trade. Very few persons 

'^ Unless, perhaps, in Rio Grande do Sul. 


know the difficulties and risks of this trade. Let us consider 
them for a moment. 

Our exports to Brazil are small, and are likely to remain 
so for some time to come ; we cannot expect to leap at 
once to commercial pre-eminence, against such obstacles as 
we have to contend with. The most important article that 
Brazil receives from us is flour, and the freights on that are 
always low, because ships, going to Rio for coffee, are glad 
to get a cargo out, at any price. Our steamers may, occa- 
sionally, carry a full load of flour, but in general, the owners 
may be happy if they get half a cargo to Rio. For the re- 
turn trip, there will be large shipments of coffee; the Roach 
steamers have brought forty-four thousand bags through to 
New York, at one time. But it must be remembered, that 
the coffee-shipping business is active only during half of the 
year, and even then, the freights are very low, owing to the 
excessive competition.* As for passengers, an important 
item on a transatlantic steamer, the Brazilian line gets very 
few of them. The freight shipments, between Brazilian ports, 
are small. 

Now, when we consider the immense outlay required for 
building and running these great steamers, we come to the 
conclusion that Mr. Roach's enterprise is likely to prove a 
non-paying one, unless he gets a good, round price for carry- 
ing the mails. This is, precisely, the much-talked-of " Bra- 
zihan steamship subsidy." Mr. Roach and his friends, with 
much reason, insist that they are not asking for a subsidy at 
all, but for a mail contract : a generous one, because they 

* During the coffee months, besides the fleet of sailing vessels, there are irregular 
steamers, three or four each month, running to Rio from New York or Baltimore; 
thence, probably, with grain, to England, where they can get large cargoes for the 
return trip to Rio. 

504 BRAZIL. 

must depend on it, in great part, to remunerate them for 
their heavy expenses. In general, I am opposed to govern- 
ment aid for private enterprises, because it destroys legiti- 
mate competition ; produces monopolies in trade. But here, 
it appears to me, is a somewhat peculiar case. Nobody 
doubts the great advantages that must accrue to our com- 
merce with Brazil by regular and rapid means of communica- 
tion ; and yet, a line of steamships, between the two countries, 
cannot pay for itself simply by the freight and passengers 
that it may carry. England, France, and Germany, knowing 
the importance of a foreign commerce, have encouraged the 
formation of steamship companies for the South American 
trade. So European houses have enjoyed far greater ad- 
vantages than the American ones. Mr. Roach offers equal 
advantages to us ; he offers, also, to carry the mails regu- 
larly ; and for this he wants one hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars, yearly, from Brazil, and an equal amount from the 
United States. Brazil, to whom the matter is of less im- 
portance than to us, has very readily acceded to his terms ; 
I heartily hope the United States will do so also, and that 
this plucky gentleman may not be forced to withdraw his fine 
ships from the southern trade. The Garrison line of Bra- 
zilian steamers was driven out entirely when the mail contract 
was withdrawn, and the consequence was, that for four years 
we had only the most irregular and unreliable communication 
with Brazil. I, for instance, being then in Para, two thou- 
sand five hundred miles from New York, received my letters 
by way of England, Portugal, and Pernambuco, about ten 
thousand miles around ; they were ten or twelve weeks old 
when they reached me ; indeed some of them never did 
reach me, at all. Imagine the difficulty of carrying on busi- 
ness under such circumstances ! 



Ever since the John Roach Hne was established, our trade 
with Brazil has been increasing, slowly and steadily ; just as 
it should in a healthy growth. So I believe that the li'ne 
ought to be encouraged, unless it can be plainly shown that 
it is unworthy of encouragement. To those who urge that 
other vessels would be driven off by the subsidized line, it 
may be answered, that sails can no longer compete with 
steam directly ; the English steamers would beat them, if the 

Loading a Ship with Coffee, at Rio. 

American ones did not. Sailing vessels must take their true 
place of floating storehouses and trading ships. Most of 
those in the Rio commerce are now owned, wholly or in part, 
by their captains ; these men often buy a portion of their 
cargo outright, and so get the importer's profits as well as 
the freight dues ; or, frequently, they bargain to carry a load 
of coffee for some merchant, who takes advantage of the long 
passage when he is expecting a rise in prices. The sailing- 
captains welcome this new steamer line, because it secures 

5o6 BRAZIL. 

regular mail communication, and helps them to regulate their 

Many people are not aware that we have indirect tele- 
graphic communication with Southern Brazil. A cable from 
Europe runs to Pernambuco, and thence to Rio ; it was pro- 
jected by an English company, and has been in operation for 
five or six years. Of course, the coffee- and sugar-merchants, 
and shippers generally, have not been slow to avail them- 
selves of this cable ; but its usefulness is seriously impaired 
by the high message-rates. I suppose that these are unavoid- 
able, where the business is so small ; as it is, the company's 
report does not show a very encouraging income. 

As for the land telegraphs, the few that are in operation 
are under government control ; it follows that they are con- 
ducted in admirable routine, and non-conducted when rou- 
tine happens to fail them. Constructed according to the 
most approved European models, they are, of course, very 
expensive. What would our American telegraphers say to 
a single, little-used wire, suspended on handsome iron poles, 

* Everybody knows that American ships sail under English colors. During the 
war, they were forced to do so, as a protection against privateers; and since then, 
our stupid laws have kept them under what is, essentially, a false flag. The ship 
may belong to an American, may be commanded and manned by Americans, may 
trade, for example, only between the United States and Brazil ; yet there are the 
lying colors that proclaim her English nationality. For the last fifteen years, a 
large portion of our ships have been built in Nova Scotia, because the cost is less 
there than at home. Now, a Nova-Scotia-built ship cannot legally be the property 
of a citizen of the United States ; therefore, it is registered in the name of some 
real or supposed Englishman in Nova Scotia, who, in truth, has nothing at all to do 
with it ; the captain passes a required examination of the English Board of Trade ; 
and so the ship is placed under the English laws. Shipmasters like this arrange- 
ment, because of the superiority of the English consular service, and the protec- 
tion afforded to them by English laws. The United States Government does not 
trouble itself greatly about its ships or citizens aljroad — more shame to us that it 
is so. Yet, this jumble of absurdities is supposed to protect American ship-builders. 


which cost, on the average, eleven dollars each ! Send a 
fifty-word message, and you will learn how these telegraph- 
poles are paid for. 

However, the telegraphs are a commercial blessing, and 
we can forgive their faults. Brazil improves slowly ; she is 
behind the times, and she knows it ; hence, is often tempted 
into expensive luxuries, simply from a desire to imitate Eu- 
ropean nations. She wants the eminent practicability of 
Yankeedom, that is content with wooden telegraph-poles and 
shabby railroad-stations until better ones can be afforded. 
Real improvements are not wanting, as, for instance, in the 
postal service. Twenty years ago, it was in such a chaotic 
state that one could hardly trust an important letter to it ; 
but a new system has been introduced ; the mail distributions 
are reasonably prompt and regular, though by no means per- 
fect ; a fine, new post-office has been put up at Rio, with all 
the modern improvements and a good deal of modern ex- 
pense. Cheap postage is still a desideratum. 

Government everywhere is a necessary evil ; government 
in Brazil is rather more evil than there is any necessity for ; 
so, at least, it appears to an outsider. At any rate, com- 
merce, here, has no more reason to thank its rulers than it 
has elsewhere. " If Congress would adjourn for a year, busi- 
ness might get on its feet again," growls our Wall-street 
friend. Rua Primeiro de Margo growls also at the inflictions 
of her rulers ; but when she brands the senators as fools, and 
the ministers as traitors, I cannot agree with her. Pray for 
better rulers ; and pray fervently that you and I may never 
rule, for, believe me, we would make a worse mess of it than 
the well-meaning men whom we have elected to mismanage. 

Broadly speaking, the Brazilian Government would be a 
reasonably good one if it were not so parental. Commerce 

508 BRAZIL. 

gets too much petting and coddling ; when it ought to take 
care of itself, it is cared for, like a sick child ; so it has come to 
look upon itself as a weakling, and when it has need of any- 
thing, it cries always for government aid. The help comes in 
subsidies, guarantees of interest, public aid for private enter- 
prises, advances of public money, and so on. Hardly a rail- 
road, or a steamboat, or a factory, is maintained exclusively 
by private capital ; the very theatres are built by the govern- 
ment ; the public libraries and museums and hospitals are 
supported by it ; in all Brazil, I doubt if you could find a 
large college or academy that has no government aid. The 
result is, that private enterprise is crippled ; it cannot stand 
against the subsidized works, and, if it could, it is utterly 
unused to standing alone ; it has been helped so long that it 
can no longer help itself. Young men seek for government 
positions, because they are the ones that command high sala- 
ries ; honest work is degraded, and commerce is weakened 
by the very efforts that are made in its behalf And after 
all, commerce must pay for such lame assistance. It pays 
roundly in the heavy import duties ; but the import taxes 
will not supply the need ; hence there are provincial duties 
on goods passing from one province to another ; there are 
municipal duties for seaport towns ; finally, there are export 
duties on almost everything that leaves the country, or would 
leave it if the duties were taken off. The argument for these 
export duties is that they are paid by foreign consumers. 
No doubt it is true, when these foreign consumers are forced 
to come to Brazil for a supply, as they are for rubber, and, 
so far, for coffee. But where Brazil must compete with other 
countries, the export duties are simply suicidal. The cotton 
industry has been almost ruined by them ; the sugar industry 
is struggling hard against them, and a dozen valuable pro- 


ducts have never got out of the country at all, because they 
cannot bear a tax of fifteen or twenty per cent, on their value. 

Wise men call for direct income taxes, that commerce 
may be relieved from its burdens. I think there is a grow- 
ing sentiment in favor of this change, and, in the slow course 
of Brazilian events, it may come to pass. Whether subsidies 
and interest guarantees will be abolished, I doubt ; but it is 
certain that the Government cannot go on as it has, without 
ending in national bankruptcy. Even with the heavy duties, 
its income does not nearly meet its expenses ; there is a 
yearly recurring deficit, and latterly this deficit has been so 
enormous, that the press and the country cry out in dismay. 
It is a pity that the Government is not wiser in its expen- 
ditures ; for, beyond this, it has shown very good financial 
management, and a national honor that is exceptional among 
the South American countries. Brazilian bonds stand well 
in foreign markets, because the interest is promptly paid ; 
holders do not trouble themselves greatly about the far-away 

In 1878, the cries of famine-victims in Ceara forced Brazil 
to the unhappy expedient of paper money. Now, she had 
seventy-five million dollars' worth of this currency, already 
afloat ; the new issue made itself felt at once in a decrease 
of the market value of paper milreis,* as compared with Eng- 
lish gold — it would hardly be right to say Brazilian gold, 
because that is hardly ever seen. Depreciated currencies 
are common enough in South America, but, hitherto, Bra- 
zil has escaped the evil. Uncharitable prophets say that she 
will go on in the downward road, now that she has started ; 
but I, for one, hope to hear of better things. At all events, 

* The Brazilian milreis is worth about fifty cents, par value ; it must not be con- 
founded with the milreis of Portugal, equal to our dollar. 


the croakers who see no hope in the business outlook of Bra- 
zil, should be condemned as pessimists ; even if the paper 
money goes down to a tenth of its value, business will sur- 
vive. In Montevideo, you buy a cigar for five dollars, and a 
hat for two hundred ; yet you will hardly find a more thriv- 
ing city on either coast of South America. 

Remember, that Brazil has only begun her march of im- 
provement ; you cannot expect perfection at once. Fifty 
years ago, she was in such a fossilized state that you might 
have despaired of her future ; but fifty years have seen vast 
strides in advance. If I seem to be a fault-finder, I can only 
plead that I write for Brazilians as well as for Americans. I 
believe that Brazil will remedy these ills ; but as long as they 
are there, I cannot, in justice, conceal them from Americans, 
who are trying to get a commercial footing in the country. 
Frankly, I look forward with hope to this commercial union, 
because I think that it will be a benefit to both countries. 
That is why I write of the difficulties that lie in the way of 
it, and the ills that Americans must put up with at Rio. 



IN 1878, Brazil exported more than five hundred million 
pounds of coffee. A large proportion of this went to 
the United States. Coffee is the principal product of Brazil, 
and the coffee tax constitutes a great share of the govern- 
ment revenue. 

The story begins on the hills around Entre Rios, away 
back of the Organ mountains. Here the landscape is quiet, 
like home. The woods, for the most part, have been cut 
away ; good, hard roads wind through the valleys ; the river 
is spanned, at intervals, by stout bridges. 

A rural landscape, purpled all with the breath of sum- 
mer. Deep, mellow purple over the distant slopes; shadow- 
ed purple in the hazy intervales ; purple, like a king's robe, 
about the river-courses. There, in the swampy ground, the 
forest is wild and luxuriant yet, with palm-trees, and fes- 
tooned llianas. On either side of the road there are coffee- 
plantations, stretching up the hill-sides. Some of them are 
dark green, like the green of trailing myrtles ; these are 
strong-bearing fields, five or six years old. Others, the 
worn-out grounds, are full of dead branches, with only two 
or three green shoots about each root. Others, again, have 
just been planted, and the long rows of young trees are con- 

512 BRAZIL. 

spicuous over the neatly weeded surface. The air is full 
of a perfume like jessamine — wafts from the thick-bloom- 
ing trees. The dazed insects go revelling in it, dive deep 
to the honey-cups, come out staggering with their strong 
draught, tumble about over the branches in shameless in- 
ebriety. Zoom! The great bumble-bees, the well-to-do, 
sober ones, go flying off to the purple hills with their loads. 

Carl and I enjoy it all. Carl is my German friend ; we 
have come up from Rio together, to study the coffee-planta- 
tions. My friend is mounted on a bony horse ; I bestride a 
most disreputable, kicking mule. Behind us rides our half- 
breed guide, Jose. Iron-shod hoofs rattle merrily ; the sorry 
beasts take new life out here on the breezy slopes. Over the 
hills, into the purple ; past whitewashed farm-houses, and lit- 
tle country stores ; down through shady ravines, among the 
tree-ferns and great, glossy philodendrons ; catching glimpses 
of virgin forest in the valleys ; passing on, by mile after mile 
of coffee-fields on the uplands. 

And now a row of cocoanut-palms comes in sight, and a 
cluster of roofs in a great, walled space, like a prison-yard. 
We draw rein at the folding-doors ; an old negro comes up, 
with bowed head, and straw hat held humbly against his 
breast. He swings the door open for us, and we clatter 
up the gravel walk to the proprietor's mansion. It is a 
large, low building, tile-roofed, and kalsomined with some 
light tint ; there is a shady piazza, and a few flowering 
shrubs grow in little enclosed spaces before it ; beyond this, 
we observe no attempt at ornament. In front of the house 
there is an immense, smooth pavement of concrete, occupy- 
ing half an acre or more, with a low wall around it ; this is 
the tci'veiro, on which coffee is dried. Beyond are the vari- 
ous mills and workshops, and the negro quarters, opening 



toward the master's house ; there may be twenty buildings 
in the cluster, all neat and substantial, but as unpicturesque 
as possible. 

** Come in, come in, gentlemen ! " cries Senhor S., meet- 
ing us at the steps, and shaking hands with us as we alight. 
S. is a great, burly fellow, rosy like an Englishman, and not 

Coffee-plantation in Southern Brazil. 

at all ceremonious. We are invited to seat ourselves on the 
piazza, and S. reads our letters ; we explain that we wish to 
remain for a few days, that we may study plantation-Hfe 
more closely. 

'' Pois nao? Why not? A room shall be prepared at 
once. Meanwhile, let us breakfast." As S. is a bachelor, 

5 14 BRAZIL. 

there are no introductions. The breakfast — a very good 
one — is discussed amid much pleasant conversation. Two 
or three negro servants stand behind our chairs, but, like 
most Brazilian house-servants, they are more for show 
than for use. The dining-room is large and bare ; at one 
side there is a writing-desk, with a few books, mostly Por- 
tuguese or French agricultural manuals, and government 
reports. Two or three unartistic pictures adorn the walls; 
the furniture is solid and angular, and badly matched. Re- 
tiring to the parlor to smoke our cigarettes, we find the 
latter apartment very little better. There is a piano, of 
course ; the furniture is rich, but tasteless, and it is placed 
at right angles to the wall ; there is not a single book in the 
room, and save the agricultural treatises, none are in the 
house. Our host was expensively educated in Brazil and 
Paris ; he is naturally intelligent and progressive, but, like 
many other Brazilian planters, he is entirely absorbed in 
his plantation ; beyond the coffee-trees, and the slaves, and 
the milreis that he may gain from them, he has little interest 
in the world and its doings. 

He discourses of the plantation, and of the improvements 
that he is introducing. This was one of the old-time estates, 
that had fallen into negligence and decay. Senhor S. has 
brought young vigor, and driving management to it ; he 
has abandoned the old tracks, introduced new machinery 
and new ideas, and his neighbors are astonished to see the 
wonderful results which he has obtained from apparently 
worn-out land. There are four thousand acres in the es- 
tate, two thousand two hundred of which are under cultiva- 
tion ; the rest is virgin forest. The fields count four hun- 
dred thousand bearing coffee-trees, and our host is just 
planting as many more ; large plots, also, are appropriated 


to corn, beans, etc., with which the two hundred slaves are 

In Southern Brazil, a coffee-field seldom lasts more than 
thirty years. The plantations are made on the fertile hill- 
sides, where the forest has been growing thick and strong. 
But the soil here is never deep ; six or eight inches of 
mould is the utmost. In twenty-five or thirty years, the 
strong-growing coffee-trees eat it all up. 

Most planters simply cut down the forest, and leave the 
trees to dry in the sun for six or eight weeks, when they 
are burned. S., more provident, lets the logs rot where 
they lie, which they do in a year or two ; in this way, the 
ground gets a large accession to its strength. 

Back of the house there are two yards, or small fields, 
together containing perhaps four acres. The ground is 
covered with earthen pots, set close together, leaving only 
little pathways at intervals. Each of the two hundred thou- 
sand pots contains a thriving young coffee-plant. The 
ground forms a gentle slope, and water is constanly run- 
ning over it, so that it is always soaked. The pots, through 
orifices at the bottoms, draw up enough of the water to keep 
the roots moistened ; the young plants are protected from 
the sun by mat screens, stretched on poles above the 
ground. All this system is a costly experiment of Senhor 
S. Most of the planters take root-shoots at random, from 
the old fields, and set them at once into unprepared ground. 
The experiment has probably cost Sr. S. twenty thousand 
dollars ; the pots alone were eleven thousand dollars. But 
he will make at least fifty thousand dollars by the operation. 
In the first place, he gains a good year, in the start that he 
gives to these young plants. Then, they are not put back in 
the transplanting ; the pots are simply inverted, and the 



roots come out with the earth ; they are set into mould or 
compost, which has been prepared in deep holes ; the tender 
rootlets catch hold of this at once, and, in a day or two, the 
plant is growing as well as ever. Dark green and waving 
are the young plants ; they rejoice in their generous fare, 
with all the fulness of plant joy ; drink in the sunshine and 
the strong air, grow and thrive, and are ready to be gener- 
ous in their turn. 

The Viveiro. 

The nurslings come from selected seeds of half a dozen 
varieties. Sr. S. has them planted, at first, in small pots. 
A dozen slaves are at work, transplanting the six-inch-high 
shoots to larger pots ; little, tired children carry themi about 
on their shoulders, working on as steadily as the old ones, 
for they are well trained. Sr. S. wants to make his plants 
last fifty years; so he is careful and tender with them. The 



little blacks will be free in a few years ; so his policy is 
to get as much work as possible from them, wdiile he can. 
Do not blame this man harshly, you who keep weary girl- 
clerks standing all day behind your counters ; you who 
throw a married man out of employment, because you can 
get a bachelor at a dollar a week less. You and he are but 

following the common busi- 
ness course, considering hu- 
man flesh and blood only for 
its marketable value. 




Picking Coffee. 

The plants grow^ and thrive, out on the hill-sides. Warm 
sunshine caresses the leaves ; generous rains feed the little 
tender roots ; the ground is kept free from intruding weeds 
and bushes ; the planter waits for his harvest. 

After four years, the trees are six feet high, and begin to 
bear ; by the sixth year, the crops are very large ; three or 
even four pounds per tree, at times. Meanwhile, corn and 
mandioca are planted between the rows ; often, in a new 
plantation, the expenses are nearly covered by these subsi- 
diary crops. 



Only a few of the slaves are employed in the new fields 
at present. November is the principal gathering month, and 
almost the whole plantation force must be at work in the 
bearing orchards. From sunrise to sunset, men, women and 
children are gathering the berries in baskets, working 
silently and steadily under the overseer's eye. Every 
day, each slave gathers, on the average, berries enough to 

produce fifty 
pounds of 
dried coffee. 
The pickings 
are collected 
in carts, and 
brought to the 
where the 
seeds must be 
prepared for 
the market. 

The coffee-berry is a little larger than a cranberry, and 
somewhat like one in appearance. Each of the two seeds is 
enveloped in a delicate membrane, the pei'gaminho ; this, 
being strongly adherent, can only be removed by much 
rubbing, even when the seed is dry. Outside of the per- 
gaminho there is a thicker and less adherent covering, the 
casqiiinho. The two seeds, with their respective inner and 
outer coverings, are together enveloped in a tough shell, the 
casco, which, in turn, is surrounded by a thin, white pulp, 
and outer skin, forming the berry. Nearly all the processes 
of preparation seek, first, the removal of the outer pulp, by 
maceration in water ; second, the drying of the seeds, with 
their coverings ; third, the removal of the several coverings, 

Coffee-berries on the Tree. 


after they are dry. To these three processes is sometimes 
added a fourth, by which the seeds are sorted according to 
their forms and sizes. 

On the hill-side, above the mills, there is a cement-lined 
trough, through which a strong stream of water is running. 
This water has been carefully cleansed by a series of strainers, 
and the trough is covered to keep out all rubbish. Through 
a funnel-shaped opening, the coffee-berries are thrown into 
the stream, which carries them down with it, to a large 
vat ; from the bottom of this vat, a pipe draws off the hea- 
vier berries to the pulping-machine (despolpadoi'), while the 
lighter, and almost valueless ones, are floated off with the 
surface-water to another pipe. 

The pulping-machine is simply a revolving iron cylinder, 
set with teeth, and covered on one side by a curved sheet of 
metal, against which it impinges as it turns. The berries, 
carried to the cylinder with the stream of water, are crushed 
between it and the cover, and the pulp is thus loosened. 
Passing from the pulping-machine to a vat beyond, the water 
is kept in constant motion by a rapidly revolving wheel ; by 
this means, the pulp is thoroughly washed off, and carried 
away with the water, while the heavier seeds sink to the bot- 
tom ; thence they are carried to a strainer, which drains off 
the water, and leaves the seeds ready for the next stage. 
Thus far, the process employed on the plantation of Sr. S. 
is similar in principle to that seen elsewhere ; the tanks and 
troughs are, indeed, more elaborate in their arrangement, and 
hence the outer pulp is washed away more thoroughly. The 
seeds are still enclosed, two together, in the outer and inner 

The next process — that of drying — is effected in two 
different ways ; both of these are employed here. This 



great, cement-covered pavement, in front of the house, is the 
terreiro^ used in the old process ; the seeds are simply spread 
out on it, and allowed to dry in the sun. About sixty days 
are required for this ; meanwhile, the seeds must be raked 
over and turned during the day, and gathered into piles and 
covered at night. When a sudden shower comes up, the 

The Pulping-machine. 

terreiro is picturesque with moving figures of slaves em- 
ployed in this work ; for the rest, it is unpicturesque enough, 
like everything else about a coffee-plantation, except the 

But Sr. S., ever ready to seize modern improvements, 
is adopting the new system of drying by steam. Back of 
the house there is a long, low building, which one is loath 



to enter, for the air within is sweltering ; a Hght vapor 
floats about the roof, and is carried away through openings 
under the eaves. We see rows of great, zinc-covered tables, 
with raised edges. Little clouds come from the drying 
coffee on these tables ; one or two negroes move about, 
stirring; the seeds here and there, and removing them as 
they are dried. This steam- 
process is likely to upset the 
old system entirely, for by it 1 

Steam Drylng-machine. 

the coffee is dried thoroughly in a few hours, and the long 
delay of the terreiro is done away with, while the product is 
much improved in quality. Against the expense of the dry- 
ing-machine, which is not very great, is set the absolute sav- 
ing of labor ; three, or at most four workmen, will attend to 
twenty tables : quite enough for the largest plantation. The 
coffee runs no danger of injury by rains, and, the process 

522 BRAZIL. 

being a constant and rapid one, there is no accumulation of 
half-prepared seeds. 

The coffee-grains are still enclosed in their inner and 
outer shells, which are now dry and somewhat brittle. The 
removal of these is effected by a much more complicated and 
expensive process. The first impression produced by our 
host's mill-house is one of utter confusion. It is a large, 
substantial building, such as might do for a flouring-mill in 
the United States. The floor, and two galleries above it, 
are occupied by a series of complicated mechanisms, some 
of them like threshing-machines, some like fanning-mills, 
some like nothing at all that a northern reader is familiar 
with ; and all in motion with a constant clatter and grinding 
and pounding, by which, somehow, nicely cleaned coffee- 
grains are evolved from the dirty-looking nut-like shells 
that come from the drying-tables. You think that so 
small a result might have been obtained by a less compli- 
cated and expensive apparatus. There are, indeed, less 
formidable mills, in which the work is done by two or 
three machines ; these are found on smaller estates, where 
the planter is satisfied with a mediocre product, and only a 
few hundred or thousand arrobas of coffee are prepared each 
year. But the plantation of Sr. S. turns out, annually, from 
sixteen to eighteen thousand arrobas, and in a few years the 
yield will be greatly increased ; his mills must shell and clean 
all this in two or three months. The large number of ma- 
chines secures, not only nicety in the result, but a greater 
capacity for work, to meet the wants of an extensive planta- 
tion. The thirty thousand dollars expended on the mill- 
house and mills was wisely laid out. All the great coffee- 
planters are adopting these improved machines, most of 
which are of American invention and make. Many of the 



mill-proprietors bring their coffee to the large engenJios 
to be cleaned, as a northern farmer brings his grist to the 

A machine described is as uninteresting as a machine 
before the eyes is attractive. Carl and I spend half a day, 
studying the mill-house ; but it will be better to epitomize 
the processes, in a rough diagram. 

The dried coffee-nuts are brought to the mill-house in 
baskets, and deposited in a bin, a. Thence the coffee is car- 
ried by a band elevator, b, to the ventilator, c, where sticks 
and rubbish are sifted out, and the dust is fanned away. 
Now it passes down through a tube, <r/, to another elevator, 

e^ which carries it 

to the sheller {des- 
cascador), y, where 
the outer and inner 
shells (casco, cas- 
quinho) are crushed 
by revolving tooth- 
ed cylinders. The 
grains and broken 

Diagram of a Coffee-engenho. 

shells pass through 

a pipe, g, to the ventilator, //, where the shells are sifted 
and fanned away; the unbroken nuts are separated on a 
sieve, and passed by the pipe, 2, back to the elevator, e, 
and so again to the descascador ; the shells and rubbish fall 
to a bin, y, from which they are removed for manure; the 
coffee-grains fall into the pipe, k, and are carried by the 
elevator, /, to the separator, m. This separator is composed 
of a pair of hollow, revolving, copper cylinders, pierced with 
holes of different sizes and shapes ; the coffee-grains, dropped 
into the cylinders, fall through these holes, and are assorted 




by them Into large and small, flat and round grains, which 
pass into different bins, n, o, p. 

A portion of the fine inner covering of the grains (perga- 
minho) still remains. This is removed in the brtcnido7', q, 
with constant shaking, trituration and fanning. Falling into 
the bin, r, it is removed, and carefully picked over by hand, 
before it is finally conveyed to the sacks. 

These machines are the outgrowth of 

many years of study. Time 

was when the shells were 

broken in great, w^ood- 



Coffee-sheller (old form). 

on many of the plantations, the work is done in larger mor- 
tars, with great, metal-shod pestles, moved by steam or water- 
power. In place of the ventilator, also, one sees shallow 
hand-sieves, which the negro women use with wonderful dex- 
terity, separating the fine dust, and tossing out the shells with 
a peculiar twist of the hand. 

A large plantation, like that of Sr. S, is a little world in 



itself. There are smithies and work-shops ; machines for 
preparing mandioca, a saw-mill, and a corn-mill, and a sugar- 
cane mill, and a still where the cane-juice is made into rum. 
At one end of the enclosure there is a brick-kiln, and near by 
a pottery, where most 


of the pots in the vi- 
veiro were prepared. 
The machinery is 
moved, partly by a 
turbine - wheel, but 
principally by a large 
steam-engine, which 
Sr. S. shows with par- 
donable pride. From 
the machine -house, 
he takes us to his 
stock - yard, which, 
though entirely a sub- 
sidiary affair, is by no 
means insignificant ; 
there are eighty fine 

Picking over Coffee. 

oxen, and nearly thirty mules, a hundred swine, and fifty 
sheep, with turkeys, fowls, guinea-hens, and pigeons — a 
feathered host. To crown all, there is a zebu ox from In- 
dia, which Sr. S. bought in Paris, and imported for experi- 

Picturesque groups of washerwomen gather about the 
great stone basin, where their work is done. Every morn- 
ing we hear the clatter of a chopping-machine, cutting up 
sweet cane-tops for the cattle. In the kitchen the slave 
rations are prepared in great kettles and ovens. Here a 
blacksmith is busy at his forge ; there a carpenter is ham- 

526 BRAZIL. 

mering or sawing. Among all we do not see an idle negro, 
for even the white-haired octogenarians are employed in 
basket-weaving or other light work, and all children, except 
the merest babies, must go to the fields with the rest. Only 
on Sundays, a few of the weaker ones gather about the 
quarters and indulge in something like recreation. 

The negroes are kept under a rigid surveillance, and the 
work is regulated as by machinery. At four o'clock in the 
morning all hands are called out to sing prayers, after which 
they file off to their work. At six cofiee is given to them ; 
at nine they breakfast on jerked beef, mandioca-meal, beans 
and corn-cake ; at noon they receive a small dram of rum ; at 
four o'clock they get their dinner, precisely like the break- 
fast, and, like that, served in the field, with the slightest 
possible intermission from work. At seven the files move 
wearily back to the house, where they are drawn up to the 
sound of a bugle. From the tripod at one side a bright 
fire half illumines, half conceals, the dark figures, sending 
flashes over the walls beyond, and casting long shadows on 
the ground. The tools are deposited in a store-house, and 
locked up ; two or three of the crowd, perhaps, advance 
timidly to make requests of the master ; after that all are 
dispersed to household and mill-work until nine o'clock ; 
then the men and women are locked up in separate quar- 
ters, and left to sleep seven hours, to prepare for the seven- 
teen hours of almost uninterrupted labor on the succeeding 
day.* On Sunday there is a nominal holiday, which, practi- 
cally, amounts to but three or four hours ; none of the 
Catholic holidays are celebrated here, and even Christmas 
is passed unnoticed. 

■^ Some masters work their slaves with more humanity, but many are even more 



The Brazilian system of gradual emancipation, however 
wise it may be in some respects, brings with it an inevitable 
evil. If a man has unrestrained control of his slave as long 
as the latter may live, he treats him well, as he would treat 
his horse well ; he does not wish to diminish the value of 
his property. But if the slave is to be freed in ten or fifteen 
or twenty years, the policy of the master is to get as much 

service as possible out of him. A 

young, able-bodied negro, even if 

he is overworked 

and cruelly treat- 

Cutting Cane-stalks for the Cattle. 

ed, may reasonably be expected to last twenty years. Hu- 
mane masters look beyond that, and treat their slaves well ; 
but the majority see the matter simply in a business light. 
If a man is foolish enough to lend his horse for five years, he 
must expect to get back a poor, broken-down animal. Yet 
he who overdrives the horse or the slave may be rather 
blinded than naturally cruel ; blinded by that thickest of all 
bandages, business. Before now, I have known a respect- 
able merchant who would cut down the salaries of all his 

528, BRAZIL. 

clerks on one day, and give a thousand dollars to the poor 
on the next. 

All through the provinces of Rio de Janeiro and Sao 
Paulo are scattered great plantations, like this that we 
have been studying. Some, indeed, are even larger, em- 
bracing a million bearing trees or more, and employing 
many hundred slaves. Small plantations are numerous, 
but many of them are deeply in debt, and their success 
is altogether problematical. A vast share of the profits of 
coffee-planting are absorbed by the large proprietors, who, 
with two or three hundred slaves and scores of labor-sav- 
ing machines, can easily outstrip their poorer neighbors. 
The present financial system of Brazil encourages the rich 
planter, and retards the poor one. There is no land-tax ; 
the best coffee-lands are all taken up by capitalists, who 
hold them for years, uncultivated. Eventually, with the 
extension of internal communications and the increased 
demand for planting-grounds, they secure enormous prof- 
its. The ground held by Sr. S. was purchased in the 
open market, twenty-five years ago, at the rate of ten dol- 
lars per acre. The present system involves two great evils : 
first, it keeps immense tracts of ground lying idle ; second, 
it makes the land so high-priced and difficult to obtain, that 
it is quite beyond the reach of the poorer classes. 

An American can better comprehend these evils, by re- 
flecting upon the results which a similar system would have 
brought to the United States. Suppose that no land-tax 
had been imposed in our western territories. The whole 
country would have been bought up by speculators, for a 
few cents or dollars an acre. These men would have held 
hundreds of square miles ; the land would have attained a 
fictitious value ; a few rich men would have acquired enor- 


mous fortunes, and immigrants would have been kept out 
by the high prices, and difficulty of obtaining farms. Im- 
mense tracts would still be lying idle, and, instead of con- 
trolling the grain trade of the world, the United States 
might now be buying of other countries. Such results 
would have been only the legitimate outgrowths of a sys- 
tem by which land, ever increasing in value, could have 
been held without limit or restriction. 

So Carl and I reason, as we ride back to Entre Rios in 
the great travelling-carriage. We admire the enterprise 
and keenness of our host ; we would be ungrateful if we 
did not feel his ready hospitality and kindness. None the 
less, he is growing richer by unjust laws and unrighteous, 
tyrannical institutions ; witness the neglected grounds of 
his poorer neighbors, and the smileless faces of his slaves. 

The four mules canter on briskly, over the hard ground. 
Presently we turn into the Unido e Indiistria road, the finest 
in Brazil, and formerly the only outlet of this region. It 
was built by a private company, who run on it a line of 
stages and freight-wagons. From the head of the bay of 
Rio de Janeiro, far into the province of Minas Geraes, 
the road is lined everywhere with rich coffee-plantations. 
The planters send their produce to Entre Rios, by this 
route ; sometimes to Rio. Tolls are levied at intervals ; 
with these, and the stages, the company reaps a rich har- 

With a tinkling of bells and a patter of hoofs, the mule- 
trains pass on down the road. The animals walk in sin- 
gle file, each one with a pair of coffee-sacks slung from 
the rough pack-frame ; behind them come the muleteers, 
mounted or on foot, and dressed in the picturesque, half- 
European costume of the Brazilian country-people. Nearly 



all coffee is brought to the railroads in this manner. For- 
merly the rough paths did not allow of any better convey- 
ance ; now there are many good roads about Rio and Sao 
Paulo, but even when these are available, the planters cling 
to the old system ; only a few use wagons. 

Entre Rios is on a branch of the Dom Pedro Segundo 
Railroad, where the latter meets the Uniao e Industria 

The Uniao e Industria Road, near Entre Rios. 

road. From its situation, the little country-town promises 
to become a thriving inland city, the metropolis of this 
rich coffee region. The hills around are covered with plan- 
tations, each with its white-walled fazenda, like a castle. 
Oddly contrasted to these are the jaunty, modern-looking 
railroad station, and the attendant hotel, which might be 
a country-tavern in the United States. Mule-trains come to 
discharjje their cargoes at the station ; bags of coffee are 


piled on the platform ; cars are being loaded with them ; 
a storehouse near by is half-filled with coffee, awaiting 
shipment. From the titled gentleman who passes you, to 
the dapper landlord, and the merest day-laborer, every- 
body in Entre Rios is dependent on coffee. The streets 
and buildings are fragrant with coffee ; people drink coffee 
at the restaurant, and quote coffee prices at Rio ; sell cof- 
fee, buy it, plant it, gather it, live and labor with very 
little thought beyond coffee, and the golden stores it will 
bring into their purses. The railroad was built to carry 
away the coffee ; that is its main business, almost its only 
income, for of other freight there is very little ; there are 
not many passengers, and ninety per cent, of these few 
are coffee-planters or coffee-traders. 

It is a smooth, well-built route, passing up the pictu- 
resque valley, by coffee-plantations everywhere, until it joins 
the main line from Sao Paulo to Rio. Then the train winds 
up the mountains, passing through a score of tunnels, cling- 
ing to the sides of giddy precipices, peering up from cavern- 
like valleys, dashing on by forests so w^ild and luxuriant that 
they almost rival those of the Amazons. The brown gneiss 
rises above us in strange peaks, mountains of goodly size. 
Itatiaia, the highest of all, is capped with clouds ; its sum- 
mit is almost ten thousand feet above the sea, so that snow is 
sometimes found there, and palms cannot grow among the 

The mountains are grand and picturesque beyond all de- 
scription ; the railroad, too, merits all the praise that has 
been lavished on its construction, for it is a triumph of en- 
gineering and workmanship. In fact, one who travels over 
the line is very apt to let his admiration run away with 
his judgment. For a moment, let us consider the road 

532 BRAZIL, 

aside from mountains and tunnels, on the question of bare 

The Dom Pedro Segundo Railroad is the longest, and, 
with perhaps one exception, the most important in Brazil. 
The total length of the main line is three hundred and sixty- 
five miles, and extensions are made almost every year. The 
road was commenced under the management of an incorpo- 
rated company, interest of seven per cent, on the capital 
stock being guaranteed by the Government. But in build- 
ing the first portion, it was necessary to cross the mountains 
near Rio, and this work was so difficult and expensive that, 
by the time one hundred miles was completed, the capital 
was entirely exhausted. In 1865 the Government bought 
the road of the stockholders, and it has since been built and 
managed as a branch of the imperial service. The road, as 
we have seen, is finely constructed ; it is regular and safe ; 
the stations and storehouses are well built and tasteful ; the 
coaches are comfortable, and the ordinary traveller, at least, 
has no fault to find with the officials. On the invested capi- 
tal, of rather more than forty million dollars, the Government 
realizes an average income of five and one-half per cent, 
yearly. So far, the result appears favorable ; the road is 
well managed, and is a source of actual gain to the Gov- 
ernment. Let us see if the practical results to the people 
are equally good. 

Carl and I, coming down, about ninety miles, from Entre 
Rios, paid nine thousand nine hundred reis each for our 
tickets ; say four dollars, by existing exchange. This is a 
high rate, but not an exorbitant one ; we might have come 
second-class for one-half as much, and v/e can get "excur- 
sion tickets," good for both ways, at a reduced price. Our 
light satchels pay nothing, of course. But if we had trunks, 


even small ones, we would have to pay as much for them as 
for ourselves. A fellow-passenger brought down five goats 
from Entre Rios. Nine thousand nine hundred reis he paid 
for himself; nine thousand nine hundred reis cost every one 
of the goats. 

The regular tariff on coffee, from Entre Rios to Rio de Ja- 
neiro, is two thousand reis — say eighty-five cents per sack of 
one hundred and thirty-two pounds.* Corresponding rates 
are charged from more distant places, and on branch roads. 
From certain portions of Sao Paulo, every sack of coffee that 
reaches Rio or Santos must pay four dollars, about one-third 
of the actual value in the Rio market. The regular freight 
charges, from Rio to New York, vary from twenty to sev- 
enty-five cents per sack. 

Portions of Sao Paulo and Minas Geraes are well fitted 
for corn, and even wheat-growing, and it has often been sug- 
gested that these districts should supply Rio with bread- 
stuffs. But if Sao Paulo grain or flour were brought to Rio 
by railroad, it could never compete with American produce ; 
nay, it is a demonstrable fact that it could be undersold by 
California grain, brought via Pacific R.R. to New York, and 
thence by sailing vessels to Rio. 

The freight rates on the Dom Pedro Segundo Railroad 
are cheaper by one-third than those on any other railroad 
in Brazil. Only three or four lines are paying a reasonable 
percentage on their invested capitals, and many would have 
to be abandoned altogether but for the Government guaran- 
tee of seven per cent, annually. Of course, these roads are 
a heavy drain on the Government, and hence on the coun- 
try, and the high freights neutralize any commensurate gain 

Sixty kilograms. 

534 BRAZIL. 

which might accrue to the districts through which they pass. 
Even the Dom Pedro Segundo Railroad is a doubtful advan- 
tage ; plans have more than once been discussed for bring- 
ing coffee to Rio by mule-trains ; and it is averred that it 
could be done at a lower rate than that demanded by the 

Brazilians are crying out against these excessive tariffs, 
but the remedy is not very apparent. No public or private 
railroad can afford to carry freight at a rate that involves a 
dead loss, or leaves no margin for profits. Most of these 
roads were built with the idea of *' opening up," or " devel- 
oping " this or that region; that is, the railroads were ex- 
pected to bring prosperity to the country, but it was not 
always clear that the country could give prosperity to the 
railroads. If a steady stream of working immigrants had 
been flowing in, such reasoning m\^\.^ perhaps, have been 
good. But Brazil gets few immigrants, and the quality of 
these few is not of the best; the "development" of new dis- 
tricts means simply a spreading out of the present resources ; 
not an actual increase of production. 

I believe that the mistake of Brazilian railroad schemes is 
that they do not consider the status of the population. In 
the northern provinces, a large proportion of the poorer 
people are non-producers ; that is, they cultivate only small 
tracts, and raise enough mandioca and corn for their own 
use, but almost nothing for sale. The large plantations are 
few and scattered ; the products — sugar, coffee, hides, etc. — 
are not enough to support a railroad, even with the present 
high freights. In the southern provinces, a large portion of 
the ground is taken up by rich coffee-planters, who cultivate 
only portions of the ground. Now, the utmost yield of coffee 
is four or five hundred pounds per acre ; if a railroad drains 



one thousand square miles of coffee-land, it can carry away 
no more than three hundred million or four hundred million 
pounds of coffee annually. The same extent of wheat or 
corn land would produce at least ten times that weight of 
grain, and hence the railroad would get ten times as much 
freight. Practically, the discrepancy is still greater. The 

Coffee Warehouse. 

province of Sao Paulo, with its two draining railroads, 
probably does not furnish one- thirtieth of the freight that is 
supplied by an equal extent of our western grain land. 
Moreover, a great proportion of the population of the coffee- 
districts consists of slaves ; their food is furnished by the 
plantations, and their clothes are few and scanty. To a 
plantation like that of Sr. S., the railroad brings nothing but 
the machinery and tools, with the furniture of the master's 
house, and a few bales of cloth for the two hundred slaves. 
An equal population in the United States would necessitate 

536 BRAZIL. 

shipments of coal, provisions, cloths, and a thousand articles 
of luxury ; all this would be clear gain to a railroad, and no 
slight addition to the outgoing freights. 

No railroad, which depends for its prosperity on coffee 
alone, can afford to establish a low freight-tariff. Hence the 
extent of such a road must be limited, for ultimately a point 
will be reached from whence the freight will be so high that 
exportation will be practically prohibited. Brazilians talk of 
extending these railroads into Matto Grosso, eight hundred 
miles from the sea ; but to what purpose ? Coffee cannot be 
cultivated there, because it cannot be exported ; and there is 
no inflow of immigrants to establish grain-farms, as in our 
Western States. I believe that Brazil should let these central 
regions alone for the present ; she should seek to condense 
and enrich her coast population, and when new fields are re- 
quired, there is the Amazons valley, an inexhaustible garden, 
with free water-communication to the ocean. 

Sometimes the coffee is sold to traders at the railroad 
station. More commonly, the planters employ agents or 
factors at Rio de Janeiro, who sell the coffee, for a small com- 
mission, to the packers (cnsaccadores). To these latter belong 
the great storehouses in the northern and eastern part of the 
city. Here there are hundreds of negro porters, carrying the 
heavy sacks on their heads, or waiting at the street-corners 
for a job ; the most of these are slaves, but some are free, and 
earn from one dollar and fifty cents to two dollars per day. 
They work often with bare bodies and arms, showing their 
magnificently developed muscles ; but the severity of the 
labor is evinced by the diseased hips and inturned knees ; 
very few of these porters attain the age of fifty years. 

Carl and I find ready admittance to a storehouse, and the 
overseer takes pains to explain the different processes. It is 


a great, barn-like room, level with the pavement, and sub- 
stantially floored and walled. The coffee-sacks are piled on 
either side, each pile bearing a separate mark, and each sack 
distinguished by a number. 

The incoming loads are brought from the railroad station 
in trucks or horse-cars ; as the porters bring them in, each 
bag is probed, and handfuls of grains are taken out for sam- 
ples ; subsequently the coffee is emptied out on the floor, and 
repacked in coarse sacks for shipping, the weight being care- 
fully adjusted to sixty kilograms, or a little over one hundred 
and thirty-two pounds. The old sacks bear the mark of the 
planters, from whom they came, and they are returned to 
their owners through the agent. 

The packers are speculators, buying the coffee outright, 
and selling it when they can do so to best advantage ; but, of 
course, avoiding the expense of a long storage. From the 
packer, the coffee goes to the exporter, who is in corre- 
spondence with American or European houses, and who de- 
pends for his profits on the New York or Baltimore or 
London markets ; with him, also, the purchases must be a 
matter of speculation and calculation, for, during the ocean 
transit of from three to seven weeks, the markets may fluctu- 
ate greatly. Sometimes a high price can be looked for at 
an early day, and then the exporter makes his shipments by 
steamer to secure a quick passage ; but, at other times, the 
markets require delay, and sailing vessels get the preference. 
Some shipments are very large ; single houses frequently 
send off eight or ten thousand bags by one steamer. So you 
see all these streams centring around the wharves, w^th 
crow^ding drays, and hnes of negro porters, and endless 
confusion evolving order; the sacks are tossed on at the 
gang-plank, and packed securely in the hold, each with its 



distinguishing mark and number, by which the cargoes will 
be separated at the other end of the route. So the whole 
immense business centres in a few dingy counting-rooms, 

i*" ^^ 

^\^ ^ \^^N \ ^^ \\N ^\N^ ^v^-^v- ^-^ ^^^•^^^^"^ ■^•^''^^ 



where American or English merchants sit coolly, and control 
a million pounds of coffee with a stroke of the pen. 

Rio and Santos are the two great coffee-ports of Brazil, 


and the three provinces of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and 
Minas Geraes produce nearly all the coffee that is sent out 
of the country. But, if the story runs truly, the northern 
provinces have the honor of the first introduction of coffee- 
plants. As is well known, the tree was a native of Arabia 
and Northeastern Africa, but it had been introduced into 
America in the early part of the eighteenth century. It 
is related that a Portuguese traveller, visiting Cayenne, 
about the year 1750, received a handful of coffee-berries 
from the wife of the French governor ; the seeds from 
these were planted near Para, and from them sprang the 
first coffee-trees in Brazil. At one time, many small coftee- 
orchards existed along the Amazons, and perhaps there was 
a small exportation from Para ; even now, a few trees are 
cultivated about the plantations and villages, and the seed 
derived from these is of a very superior quality — probably 
the best in South America. Yet it would be hard to con- 
vince a Brazilian that coffee can be successfully grown in the 
northern provinces. 

The coffee-plant was first introduced into Rio in 1774, 
but it was long before it became an article of export. In 
1800, ten sacks were sent out of this port, and in 1813, thir- 
teen sacks. In 18 17, the first large shipments took place, 
about sixty-four thousand sacks ; from that time until 1 851, 
the exportation increased steadily, reaching, in the latter 
year, over two million sacks, or three hundred and thirty 
million pounds. Since then, the increase has never been 
very great, and at times there has been a falling off in the 
yearly product. This want of growth is due, no doubt, to 
the ruinous system of cultivation, robbing the ground with- 
out enriching it ; and to the high freight tariffs, and conse- 
quent uselessness of the interior lands. To these may be 

540 BRAZIL. 

added the export duties, which may eventually ruin the in- 
dustry altogether. Latterly, other countries are turning 
their attention to coffee, and as soon as their young plan- 
tations are grown, they will compete with Brazil in the mar- 
kets of the world. Mexico, especially, is likely to be a 
powerful rival, and if coffee is sent from her ports, free of 
duty, she may eventually force Brazil to diminish or remove 
her export tax, now the chief source of her revenue. 

The good ship City of Rio de Janeiro passes by the 
Sugar-loaf rock, and steams out to sea, with forty-four 
thousand bags of coffee stowed in her hold : almost six 
million pounds. Through storm and calm she bears her 
rich freight ; over the bar at Sandy Hook, and through the 
Narrows, and up to the busy wharves. There, with hurry 
and bustle, with rattling of pulley-chains and rumbling of 
wheels, the sacks are borne away to the warehouses, thence 
to be distributed east, west, north, south, to every State in 
the Union, to fifty thousand grocery stores, five hundred 
thousand families. 

Now, as I sip my morning coffee and pen these conclud- 
ing lines, my thoughts go back to the bright hill-sides, the 
tired slaves, the busy Rio streets, the good and evil of this 
great industry. From great to small ; it is a little matter, 
this cup of coffee, but the prosperity of a great empire de- 
pends on it. So here I drink to the health of Brazil, to her 
political and social and commercial welfare, to the downfall 
of evil and the growth of all good, all noble impulses that 
are buried in noble hearts. Viva o Brasil / 



THE Indians gather about their camp-fire ; the day's 
work is done, and supper is eaten ; weird shadows 
and lights dance over the trunks and branches and dark 
water beyond. Listen now, while they tell stories of the 
forest and its people : 


A jabtcti (land-tortoise) came to an inaja palm-tree, where a troop 
of monkeys were eating the fruit. 

*' Hullo, monkeys ! " said the jabuti, '' what are you doing there ? " 
" We are eating inaja-fruits," responded the monkeys. 
*' Throw me down some," begged the jabuti. 

* This chapter is a provisional one ; at some future time I hope to publish the 
results of a critical and comparative study of the Amazonian myths and folk-lore ; 
a work begun by the lamented Prof. Hartt, but cut short by his untimely death. 
Meanwhile, I invite contributions from all friendly readers ; first, from South Amer- 
ican travellers, any Indian stories that they may have collected from Guiana to 
Paraguay ; second, from Old World travellers, and those familiar with our western 
Indians, any stories that bear a distinct resemblance to those I give ; third, from 
planters and residents in our Southern States, any negro myths or stories not mani- 
festly historical. Stories should be given as nearly as possible in the original 
words, and time and place of collection should be specified ; full credit will be 
given to the collector. Communications can be addressed to care of American Geo- 
graphical Society, ii West Twenty-ninth St. , New York. 

542 BRAZIL. 

" No," said the monkeys ; " we will bring you up here, and you can 
eat all you want." So they ran down to the ground, took the jabuti by 
the legs, and carried him up to the top of the palm-tree : there they put 
him on the bunch of fruit, and so left him. 

The jabuti ate his fill, and began to look about him for a means of 
getting down. Just then a jaguar passed under the tree, and saw the 
jabuti sitting high over his head. " Hullo, jabuti!" said the jaguar, 
" what are you doing there? " 

" I am eating inaja-fruits," answered the jabuti. 

" How did you get up there ? " inquired the jaguar. 

" I climbed up." 

" O, jabuti, throw me down some of the fruit." 

" All right," said the jabuti ; ''if you will place yourself right under 
me, I will throw down some fruit for you." 

So the jaguar stood directly under the bunch ; whereat the jabuti 
slipped off and fell on the jaguar's head, and killed him.* 



A jaguar saw a jabuti just as he was disappearing into his hole. He 
reached after him, and caught him by the hind-leg, but the jabuti held 
fast. " Oh, you foolish fellow," he cried, " you think you have got me, 
but you are only holding a root." Then the jaguar let go, but in trying 
to reach still farther he got hold of a real root, to which the jabuti tied 
his paw ; then, coming out of the hole another way, he killed the jaguar 
by biting him behind. 

There are many variants of this story. In one, quoted 

* Prof. Hartt (Amazonian Tortoise Myths, p. 27) gives a somewhat different 
ending for this story. 

" 'Why don't you come down ? " asked the jaguar. The tortoise answered that 
he was afraid lest he should be killed. Now the jaguar wanted to make a meal of 
the tortoise, so he said : ' Don't be afraid ! Jump ! I will catch you ! ' The tortoise 
leaped down, but the jaguar missed his aim, and the tortoise, striking him on the 
head, killed him." 

Prof. Hartt collected this version at Santarem, where mine also was obtained. 


by Prof. Hartt, * " the jabuti is represented as spreading out 
his tauari (bark cigarette-wrappers) to dry in the sun, before 
the mouth of the hole. The jaguar caused a wind to blow 
the tauari about, hoping, in this way, to entice out the tor- 
toise, but the latter, too wary, sent out another animal to 
look after the tauari, and himself escaped." Hartt also quotes 
a version obtained by Dr. Silva de Coutinho on the Rio Bran- 
co : " Here, however, the jaguar left a toad to guard at the 
mouth of the burrow of the tortoise. The jabuti, seeing him, 
asked why his eyes were so red and swollen, and persuaded 
him to rub them with a certain plant, which, being caustic, 
blinded him." 


A hunter, watching behind a tree for deer, heard a noise behind 
him ; he turned, and saw a jabuti near by, with a great white shell on 
his back ; on looking closer he found that it was a jaguar's skull. The 
jaguar had seized the jabuti and bitten into his back ; but there his teeth 
had stuck fast, and so he died, and, in time, the jabuti went away with 
his skull. And ever since, the jabuti has carried the jaguar's skull on 
his back. 


A jabuti met a deer and asked : " O, deer, what are you seeking ? " 
The deer answered : *' I am out for a walk, to see if I cannot find some- 
thing to eat ; and, pray, where are you going, tortoise ? " 

*' I am also out walking ; I am looking for water to drink." 

•* And when do you expect to reach the water ? " demanded the deer. 

" Why do you ask that question ? " returned the tortoise. 

* Op. cit. p. 29. 

+ This story was obtained from a white planter, and it is evidently incomplete. 

X I quote Prof. Hartt's words for this story, as being better than the version, 
substantially the same, that I find in my note-book. The story is very common all 
over the Amazons. 

544 BRAZIL. 

" Because your legs are so short." 

" Well ! " answered the tortoise, " I can run faster than you can. If 
you are long-legged you cannot run as fast as I." 

" Then let us run a race ! " said the deer. 

" Well ! " answered the tortoise, " when shall we run ? " 

" To-morrow." 

" At what time? " 

" Very early in the morning." 

'■'■ Eng-eng ."' (yes) assented the tortoise, who then went into the 
forest and called together his relations, the other tortoises, saying : 
" Come, let us kill the deer ! " 

" But how are you going to kill him ? " inquired they. 

" I said to the deer," answered the tortoise, '' let us run a race ! I 
want to see who can run the fastest. Now I am going to cheat that 
deer. Do you scatter yourselves along the edge of the campo, in the 
forest, keeping not very far from one another, and see that you keep 
perfectly still, each in his place ! To-morrow, when we begin the race, 
the deer will run in the campo, but I will remain quietly in my place. 
When he calls out to me, if you are ahead of him, answer, but take care 
not to respond if he has passed you." 

So, early the next morning, the deer went out to meet the tortoise. 

" Come ! " said the former, '' let us run." 

'■'■ Wait a bit ! " said the tortoise, " I am going to run in the woods." 

" And how are you, a little, short-legged fellow, going to run in the 
forest ? " asked the deer, surprised. 

The jabuti insisted that he could not run in the campo, but that he 
was accustomed to run in the forest ; so the deer assented, and the tor- 
toise entered the wood, saying : " When I take my position I will make 
a noise with a little stick, so that you may know that I am ready." 

When the tortoise, having reached his place, gave the signal, the 
deer started off leisurely, laughing to himself, and not thinking it worth 
his while to run. The tortoise remained quietly behind. After the deer 
had walked a little distance, he turned around and called out : Vi 
yauti ! " (Hullo, tortoise !) when, to his astonishment, a tortoise a little 
way ahead cried out : " Vi suasti I " (Hullo, deer!) " Well," said the 
deer to himself, "that jabuti does run fast!" whereupon he walked 


briskly for a little distance, and then cried out again, but the voice 
of a tortoise still responded far in advance. 

'' How's this? " exclaimed the deer, and he ran a little way, until, 
thinking that he surely must have passed the tortoise, he turned about, 
and called again; but " UH suasu / " came from the edge of the forest 
just ahead. 

Then the deer began to be alarmed, and ran swiftly until he was sure 
that he had passed the tortoise, when he stopped and called ; but a ja- 
buti still answered in advance. On this, the deer set off at full speed, 
and, after a little, without stopping, called to the tortoise, who still from 
ahead cried : " U^i suasu ! '''' He then redoubled his forces, but with 
no better success, and at last, tired and bewildered, he ran against a 
tree and fell dead. 

The noise made by the feet of the deer having ceased, the first tor- 
toise listened. Not a sound was heard. Then he called to the deer, 
but received no response. So he went out of the forest and found the 
deer lying dead. Then he gathered together all his friends and rejoiced 
over the victory. 

I once heard an Indian relate this story with a different 
conclusion. The deer gave up the race to the jabuti. The 
deer then offered to have a trial of strength with the jabuti. 
** We will take a sipo'' (vine-stem), said he ; '* you can fas- 
ten one end to your hind-leg, and I will fasten the other end 
to my hind-leg, and we w^ill try to see which can pull the 
other along." The jabuti agreed : so they got a long sipd, 
and fastened it to their hind-legs as agreed ; but, while the 
deer was walking away from him, the jabuti untied his end 
from his leg, and fastened it to a tree. When the deer 
began to pull and tug, and could make no advance, he 
thought to himself: ** This won't do; the jabuti is stronger 
than I ! " So he asked a whale "^ to help him ; but both to- 

* Baleo : whales, of course, are not known on the Amazons, but the Indians have 
heard of them. 


546 BRAZIL. 

gether could not pull away the supposed tortoise, and they 
finally died from exhaustion. 

The Indians frequently tack their stories together, and, 
to preserve their original characters, often vary the form ab- 
surdly, as in this tale, in which the deer asks a whale to help 
him. Clearly, the above ending is derived from another 
story, which Prof. Hartt has given in full : 


One day a jabuti went down to the sea to drink. A whale saw him, 
and called out : " What are you doing, jabuti ? " To which the latter 
responded : " I am drinking, because I am thirsty." 

Then the whale made sport of the tortoise, because of his short legs, 
but the latter replied : " If my legs are short, I am stronger than you, 
and can pull you on shore." 

The whale laughed, and said : " Let me see you do it ! " 

'' Well," said the jabuti, ''just wait until I go into the forest and 
pull a sipo.''^ 

Away went the tortoise into the forest, and there he encountered a 
tapir, who demanded : " What are you looking after, jabuti ? " 

*' I am looking after a sipd." 

" And what are you going to do with the sipd ? " asked the tapir. 

'' I want to pull you down to the sea." 

" Ya/^' exclaimed the tapir, surprised. "■ I'll pull you into the forest, 
and what's more, I'll kill you ; but never mind, let's try who may be 
the stronger ! Go get your sipd ! " The tortoise went off, and presently 
came back with a very long sipd, one end of which he tied around the 
body of the tapir. 

" Now," said the jabuti, ''wait here until I go down to the sea. 
When I shake the sipd, run with all your might into the forest." Hav- 
ing attached one end to the tapir, he dragged the other down to the sea, 
and fastened it to the tail of the whale. This accomplished, he said, 
" I will go up into the forest, and when I shake the sipd, pull as hard as 
you can, for I am going to draw you on shore." 


The jabuti then went into the wood, midway between the whale and 
the tapir, shook the sipo, and awaited the result. First the whale, 
swimming vigorously, dragged the tapir backward to the sea, but the 
latter, resisting with all his might, finally gained a firm foothold, and 
began to get the better of the whale, drawing him in toward the shore. 
Then the whale made another effort, and, in this manner, they kept tug- 
ging against one another, each thinking the tortoise at the other end of 
the sipo, until at last, both gave up the struggle from sheer exhaustion. 

The tortoise went down to the shore to see the whale, who said : 
*' Well ! you are strong, jabuti ; I am very tired." 

The tortoise then untied the sip6 from the whale, and having dipped 
himself in the water, presented himself to the tapir, who thought the 
tortoise had been pulling against him in the water. 

" Well, tapir," said the jabuti, " you see that 1 am the stronger." 

The tortoise then released the tapir, who went off saying: "It is 
true, jabuti, you are indeed strong ! " * 


A jaguar had a mind to marry ; he fell in love with the daughter of 
the deer, and one day he asked, and obtained, the deer's consent to the 
match. Now the jaguar had a friend, the cotia. So to the cotia's house 
he ran, in great joy, to tell the news, and boast of his good luck. " See 
how fortunate I am ! " he cried, " I am going to marry the deer's 
daughter, the prettiest girl of the forest, and you, my friend, shall 
attend the wedding ! " 

" You are indeed happy," responded the cotia. " I congratulate you ! " 
But in his heart, he was resolved to cut the jaguar out. So, when the 
jaguar was gone, he ran to the deer's house, and asked for his daughter 
in marriage. 

* In a variant, the tapir and whale are replaced by the jaguar and a great water- 
snake ; in another variant, the kad-p6ra, a mythical being, takes the place of the 

t The Cotia {Dasyprocta, sp. var.), called agouti in the West Indies, is a long- 
legged, terrestrial rodent, very common in the Amazonian woods. In Indian my- 
thology he is a mischievous person, who plays pranks on the jaguar. 

548 BRAZIL. 

" I would be very happy to give her to you," said the deer, " but she 
is already engaged to the jaguar, who asked her of me but now." 

" Poll, poh ! " exclaimed the cotia, " the jaguar isn't good enough 
for her ; he is only a miserable old dotard, the worst beast in the 
woods, and the weakest ; why, I could make him carry * me, for all he 
is so big ! " 

"Say you so?" exclaimed the deer. "Well, cotia, if you can 
make the jaguar carry you, you shall have my daughter." So the 
cotia went away and awaited his opportunity. 

When he knew that the jaguar was going to the deer's house, he 
went and lay down in the path where the jaguar must pass ; he had a 
bandage round his head, and he pretended to be very ill. Presently the 
jaguar came by and saw him. 

" Hullo, cotia! " said he, " what are doing there ? " 

" I am lying in the woods," said the cotia, " because I am very ill." 

" I am going to see my betrothed," said the jaguar; "get up and 
come along with me." 

" Indeed I would like to," sighed the cotia, "but, as you see, I am 
quite unable to walk." 

" Well," said the jaguar, " if you wdll come with me, I will carry 

" Very good," responded cotia, " if you will carry me I will go." 
So the jaguar took the cotia on his back, and walked off with him. 

Presently the cotia slipped off on the ground. " Oh, cotia ! " said 
the jaguar, " why did you fall off? " 

" I fell off," answered the cotia, " because Fm so weak that I can't 
hold on." 

" Well," said the jaguar, " I will tie you on with sipo." So the 
jaguar got a sipo, and tied the cotia fast to his back, and so went on. 
Presently the cotia began to strike the jaguar with his fore-feet. 

" Hullo ! " exclaimed the jaguar, " what are you striking me for ? " 

" I am striking you," said the cotia, "because you haven't given me 
a switch ; every one who rides should have a whip." f 

* Montar : The cotia says that he can ride the jaguar. 

t The idea of horsemanship here introduced is apparently a modern interpola- 


The jaguar, willing to humor his friend, gave him a switch : he used 
this very gently until they neared the house of the deer, when he began 
to whip with all his might. The jaguar, mightily enraged, tried to 
shake him off, but the sipo held him fast, and together they ran through 
the forest. The cotia waited until he saw a hole ; then he gnawed the 
sipo, and slipped off, and so got into the hole before the jaguar could 
seize him. 

The jaguar watched at the mouth of the hole for a long time, but at 
length he became very tired and thirsty ; so he said to an owl : " O 
owl ! will you watch this hole for me while I go and get some water ? " 

*'Yes," said the owl, "I will watch it for you, and nothing shall 

The jaguar went off to drink, and the owl sat watching the hole. 
Presently the cotia peeped out, and saw the two great eyes staring at 
him ; he threw a handful of sand into the owl's face, and blinded him, 
and, while the latter was rubbing his eyes, the cotia got out of the hole 
and ran away. 

Just then the jaguar came back. *' O owl ! " said he, " where is the 
cotia ? " 

*' Alas ! " answered the owl, "he threw sand into my eyes, and 
blinded me, and then ran away ! " 

After that the jaguar could never catch the cotia, and the mischief- 
maker married the deer's daughter, because he had made the jaguar 
carry him, as he had promised.* 



A cotia began to run through the woods as fast as he could go. Pres- 
ently he met a jaguar. 

" Hullo, cotia," cried the jaguar, "where are you going so fast? " 
" Why ! " said the cotia, " don't you know ? There is a great storm 
coming up, that is blowing away all the animals of the forest ; I am run- 
ning as fast as I can to my hole, where I shall be safe." 

* Compare the latter part of the story (evidently tacked on), with the variant of 
a preceding story, where the jaguar sets a toad to watch a tortoise's hole. 

550 BRAZIL. 

" Wait a minute ! " exclaimed the jaguar, in great alarm. " What is 
going to become of me ? I have no hole to go to, and the wind will blow 
me away ! O my friend ! tie me to a tree that I may not be blown 
away ! " 

" Well," said the cotia, " I will tie you." So he tied the jaguar 
fast to a tree, and went away, laughing to himself at the other's 

After a day, a white ant came and gnawed the sipo, and set the 
jaguar free. Meanwhile, the cotia, who had been running around and 
enjoying himself, took it into his head to see what had become of his 
prisoner. He crept softly up to the tree. Just at this moment the 
jaguar was freed by the white ant. 

" O copim ! " (white ant) cried the jaguar, " O king of the copins ! 
I will always be grateful to you for this ; come to my house whenever 
you like, and I will feed you on the best that I have, and give you the 
best bed, and treat you like a king." 

The cotia, when he heard this, resolved to cheat the jaguar again. 
He found a bee's nest in a tree, and rolled himself in the honey ; then he 
went to a white-ants' nest, and shook a great number of the insects out 
on the ground, rolling among them, until they stuck to the honey and he 
was covered all over with them. Thus disguised, he went boldly to the 
jaguar's house. As he came up, the jaguar's son saw him, and cried to 
his father. " Oh, father! here is the king of the copins, all covered with 
little copins ! " 

Then the jaguar hastened out to meet his guest, and invite him in ; 
he made a fine dinner for him, and waited on him all day, and, when 
night came, he gave him the best place to lie in ; so the cotia lay down 
and went to sleep. 

About midnight, a heavy rain came up. ''O my son!" said the 
jaguar, " go and look at the king of the copins, and see if he is getting 

Now the cotia had a dry place, and he slept well ; only there was one 
little hole in the thatch, and here the rain trickled down and washed the 
honey and copins from his body, so that the red fur appeared. The 
jaguar's son saw it, and ran back to his father, exclaiming, " Oh, father, 
this is not the copin-king, at all, but that wicked old cotia ! " 


Then the jaguar sprang up in great rage, and finding the cotia still 
asleep, he seized him and bound him fast to a tree. 

*' What shall 1 do with this mischief-maker ? " he exclaimed. " To- 
morrow morning I will take him to the river, and throw him in and 
drown him ! " So he left his son to watch the prisoner, and went off to 
sleep again. 

Presently the cotia began to dance and sing, and make himself very 

"Hullo, cotia!" said the jaguar's son, ''what are you laughing 
about ? " 

" I am laughing," responded the cotia, " because I am so glad that 
your father is going to throw me into the river ; that is just what I like ; 
I was born to swim. Now, if he were going to throw me into a brier- 
bush {Rabo de ca7iieliad), I would be very sad, because I couldn't get out 
of that, and I would die. 

In the morning, the jaguar's son told his father all that the cotia had 
said ; so the latter, instead of throwing his enemy into the river, threw 
him into a brier-bush ; whereat the